COUNCIL staff helping some of the most vulnerable people across West Cheshire, are celebrating a record customer satisfaction rating.
In May and June, this year, independent researchers looked at every aspect of the service in a random survey of 2,000 households claiming housing and council tax benefits.
And claimants awarded staff in CWaC’s Revenues and Benefits and Customer Services teams a bumper overall customer satisfaction rating of 85.2%.
“We are delighted with this result. It is a tremendous testimony to the level of professionalism and care shown by our staff to those who most need it,” said Finance and Resources Executive Member, Cllr Les Ford.
Housing and council tax benefits are paid to 28,500 households in West Cheshire – an increase of 2,500 since April 2009.
The rise is due both to the present economic circumstances and the success of CWaC’s “Everyone Benefits” campaign which succeeded in achieving an extra £509,000 for residents.
“This was money to which our residents were fully entitled but not getting .Thanks to the diligence of our staff, who beat their own target by £109,000, they are now doing so,” added Cllr Ford.
While there were many reasons for the high overall satisfaction rating, one of the main reasons could well have been the decision to scrap a 30-page means test form.
CWaC’s Revenue and Benefits Service produced their own ‘severely pruned’ 11-page version which has been much appreciated by staff and claimants alike.
Service development manager Beverley Wright said: “Dealing with benefit claims is frequently a difficult and highly sensitive job and such a formidable form certainly did not help.
“I’d like to think that producing our own version reflects the help and understanding we try to show in our everyday dealings with people who not only need assistance but are entitled to it.”
During 2009/10 benefits staff and advisors in the council’s Customer Services Team made over 94,000 decisions in processing over 16,000 new claims involving over 78,000 changes in people’s circumstances.
Advice was given during home visits, in person at contact centres, over the phone, via the internet and by letter.
Staff not only advise on benefits but the whole range of financial assistance available to residents in West Cheshire.
Julie Bellis, senior manager, customer services, said: “We are proud of the results recorded by the survey which reflect the general standards set by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“We understand that this could be the highest customer satisfaction level recorded by our predecessor council’s in west Cheshire.”