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Benefits Agency analyses the ‘Better Government for Older People Services’

A report by the Department for Social Security has outlined recommendations on improving public service for older people.

22 March 2001

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The report provides an evaluation of the Benefits Agency’s Better Government for Older People Services (BA BGOP) and aims to give a better understanding of how to improve BA services with other local providers.

The report is based on research with BA staff representatives from other organisations and customers and used a combination of in-depth interviews and focus groups. It explores experiences of attitudes towards and opinions about the different BA BGOP services. These included: information surgeries; home visits; roadshows; telephone advice lines and new information technology services.

The main findings were:

  • benefits advice for older people is most effectively delivered by a combination of different methods including a ‘high street location’; a home visits service a dedicated helpline and travelling advisors to reach out to older people in the community particularly in rural areas.
  • Information surgeries appealed to customers especially when they were conveniently located on familiar neutral territory and where interviews could be held in private.
  • The home visit service reached out to vulnerable isolated less mobile and less aware customers and appealed because it enabled them to get advice in their own home.
  • Roadshows appealed because they provided good access to advice and assistance they were criticised however for being too public an arena in which to seek advice on benefits etc.
  • The telephone helplines were well received for those with less complex queries.

Areas identified as needing improvement included the simplification of the claims process written communication and awareness of the benefits available.

The report found that older people want a modern integrated benefit service which is able to provide flexible friendly assistance.

Pensions Minister Jeff Rooker said: “ A one size fits all approach to the benefits service is no longer in tune with what people want.”

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