Hartlepool Borough Council

Revenues & Benefits Customer Charter

Customer Charter

What we do

The Revenues & Benefits Service administers Council Tax and Business Rates for just over 40,500 domestic and 2,500 business properties, and recovers the Council's outstanding Sundry Debt Invoices. We also deal with the assessment and award of Housing and Council Tax Benefit for 13,000 residents, and investigate any suspected benefit fraud cases. The Council's main Cashiering Office, located at the Civic Centre, is also part of our Service.

What you can expect from us

As our Customer, you can expect a high quality standard of service delivered by professional staff that will treat you politely, fairly and sensitively.

We will deliver our service to the same high standards to all our customers, regardless of race, sex, disability, age or sexual preference.

We are always looking at the way we provide services in the Revenues and Benefits section to make sure that we provide an efficient and effective, value for money service to you the Customer.

This leaflet details the level of service that you can expect to receive from the Revenues and Benefits Section.

Our Objectives

The Revenues Section will:

-maximise the collection of council tax, business rates and other income due to the Council
- operate value for money billing and collection arrangements
- be proactive in raising customer awareness about council tax discounts, exemptions and reductions
- provide choice and flexibility in payment methods
- work closely with the Benefits Section to ensure customers maximise their entitlement to council tax benefit
- operate a consistent and fair approach to debt recovery

The Benefits Section will:

- assist the public to access Benefits by offering effective guidance and support arrangements including home visits, benefit surgeries and a customer enquiry facility
- undertake prompt, accurate decisions on the level of benefit entitlement and effective communication of the outcome to the customer
- work effectively with a range of external agencies in determining benefit entitlement
- promote benefit awareness and the maximisation of benefit take-up

When you visit the office we will

- endeavour to see you within five minutes of your arrival at our Customer Enquiry Counter
- be able to give you a receipt for any documents handed to us

When you contact us by telephone we will

- answer your call within 3 rings
- identify ourselves by giving name and section
- try to resolve your query but if we need more time to get the information we will call you back
- endeavour to arrange a home visit if you cannot visit the office because of any disability or special needs

When you write to us we will

- respond to 95% of all your letters within 10 days
- write to you in plain, clear language
- refer your letter to the correct person if we are unable to help you

Performance Targets

The following targets are called our 'Best Value Performance Indicators' and are monitored at a national level by the government:

- We aim to collect 96% of Council Tax and 99.2% of Business Rates due for 2006/2007 before 31st March 2007
- We aim to process New Benefit Claims within an average of 29 days
- We aim to process reported Changes in Circumstances for Benefit claims within an average of 9 days

In addition to the 'Best Value Performance Indicators' we also have our own targets and standards that we work to:

- process 95% of Discretionary Housing Payments within 10 working days of receiving all relevant information
- process 95% of requests for the reconsideration of benefit awards within 10 working days
- update Council Tax and Business Rates accounts within 6 working days of receiving the information from the valuation office
- issue 90% of refunds within 7 days of receiving a request
- make sure our customers do not to queue for longer than 5 minutes when making a payment at the cash office
- ensure customers wait no longer than an average of 7 minutes for an interview with Revenues and Benefits staff
- contact 95% of customers to arrange a home visit within 5 working days of a request

Tell us What You Think

If we do not meet these standards please tell us. We will welcome any comments, compliments, concerns or suggestions you may have about our service. This will help us find out where we are going wrong and what we are doing right, which helps us plan improvements for the future.

We would also like to know what you, the customer, thinks about our performance targets and the standard of service the Revenues and Benefits Section provides

Please note: Suggestion boxes are located in the waiting area of our Customer Enquiry Counter and our Cash Office.

Contact us

Telephone: 01429 266522

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