KIRKLEES Council's troubled benefits service was told today: "You're one of the best".
Delighted workers got the pat on the back from independent watchdogs.
Staff were handed a top rating in a survey by the Audit Commission.
Council leader Clr Kath Pinnock said: "I'm delighted for them.
"They've worked extremely hard."
Just three years ago the council's benefits service was branded one of the worst in the country.
New applicants were forced to wait 181 days on average for Housing Benefit claims to be processed.
A Government minister ordered that steps had to be taken to clear the backlog - or strong action would be taken.
Today the Audit Commission declared that the benefits service is now excellent.
Clr Pinnock said: "It has faced many problems over the years and I am delighted it has been turned round and is now seen as a top performer."
The judgement came as part of the annual league tables for councils published by the Audit Commission.
Kirklees got three stars out of a possible four on its performance across all town hall services.
Clr Pinnock said the judging methods had changed and were much tougher this year.
She said: "Overall, we have achieved a three star rating under the tougher rules and a judgement by the Audit Commission that the council in overall terms is improving well."
Leeds and Sheffield are the top councils in the region with four stars.
* Leeds Improving well (4 stars)
* Sheffield Improving well (4 stars)
* East Riding Improving strongly (3 stars)
* Rotherham Improving strongly (3 stars)
* Kirklees Improving well (3 stars)
* North Yorkshire Improving well (3 stars)
* Barnsley Improving well (3 stars)
* Bradford Improving adequately (3 stars)
* Doncaster Improving adequately (3 stars)
* North Lincolnshire Improving adequately (3 stars)
* York Improving adequately (3 stars)
* Wakefield Improving well (2 stars)
* Kingston upon Hull Improving adequately (1 star)
* North East Lincolnshire Not improving adequately (0 star)
* Calderdale Subject to review