New housing benefit applicants in Blackpool are waiting more than three weeks for their claims to be processed – beyond the legally advised response time.
Between January and March of this year, new claimants waited 23 days on average for their application to be completed, Department for Work and Pensions data shows.
That’s above the average across Britain of 19 days including weekends.
Legal guidance states councils should respond to the claim within two weeks.
According to the figures, Blackpool Council processed 676 new cases during the three month period
Including existing recipients, there were 15,799 housing benefit claimants in Blackpool in that time.
During the same three months in 2018, applicants had less time to wait, with an average of 19 days.
A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “We constantly review our outstanding work and always look for ways to improve our performance.
“Our processing time for new applications is currently 20 days which is reduction on these figures.
“We cannot process a claim until we have received all of the necessary information. If any information or evidence is missing we contact the customer immediately.
“How quickly we can process the claim is then very much dependent upon how soon that is provided.”
Residents are eligible for housing benefit if they rent, their savings are below £16,000, and they are on low income or other benefits.
The amount applicants receive differs depending on whether they rent from the council, or privately, their salary and whether they have any spare rooms.
Blackpool was quicker at dealing with current claimants, who had changed their living circumstances, than those applying for the first time.
Those applications took on average 13 days to complete.
This is the first quarter the Government has rolled out Universal Credit in Blackpool, which aims to replace benefits such as housing benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and child tax credits.
These figures include only people who were receiving the old housing benefit payments.