Sheffield keeps CSL, despite benefits backlog

15 Jun 00
Outsourcing company CSL has held on to its benefits contract with Sheffield City Council, in spite of its continuing failure to meet its targets.

16 June 2000

A divorce was on the cards in February when there was an outcry over a huge and mounting backlog and delays in benefits being paid. But the council has decided that changing to a different company would create still greater disruption.

'All of us acknowledge that the level of service which people deserve is not yet being delivered and our major concerns are for claimants affected by this,' said Andrew Sangar, chair of the council's benefits panel. 'However, significant progress has been made, especially in developing the underlying machinery with which to deliver the service and clear the backlog.'

Outstanding claims are now down from 27,672 to 18,500 and the number of outstanding documents has fallen from a peak of 85,000 to fewer than 43,000. CSL has now been given until the end of August to get the number of claims down to 5,000, which is regarded as the normal work-in-progress figure.

Two reports considered by the benefits panel on June 13 – one from council officers, the other from PricewaterhouseCoopers – concluded that the most appropriate course of action was to continue to work with CSL. This conclusion came in spite of the company's failure to meet rectification targets.

The council's own report said: 'It is now recognised that despite significant progress in some areas, the overall aims of becoming contract compliant and clearing the backlog have not been achieved.'

A spokesman for CSL said the company was 'delighted Sheffield has confirmed its confidence in CSL and looked forward to continuing to work to improve the service'.


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