§ Clive Efford
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will publish the inspection report of the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate in respect of Cardiff county council. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate's (BFI) report on Cardiff county council was published today and copies of the report have been placed in the Library.
The report finds that, generally, the council performed well in administering benefits but needed to improve counter fraud work.
Inspectors found a marked difference in performance between the city hall and area office teams. Performance was poorer, and sickness levels higher, at the city hall which was dealing with a backlog of 4,500 documents.
The report notes good performance in a number of areas including the verification of claims, a good working relationship with the Benefits Agency, excellent complaints procedures and good internal audit practices.
Areas of poor performance included decision notices that did not comply fully with legislation, fraud investigations which were curtailed too early meaning that Cardiff was unable to prosecute fraudsters, and the lack of a counter fraud publicity policy and risk analysis of fraud.
There was mixed performance in dealing with overpayments of benefit with the classification of overpayments being poor. Inspectors note that the council had begun to improve in this area.1064W
The council had a service improvement plan in place prior to the inspection. This comprehensive plan addresses many of the points that the report identifies. Elected members and staff are jointly driving through the objectives of the plan.
Cardiff administered some £80 million in housing benefits in 1999–2000.
The report makes recommendations to help the council address weaknesses and to improve the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit, as well as counter fraud activities.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is now considering the report and will be asking the council for its proposals in response to the findings and recommendations of the BFI.