DWP: councils not claiming Discretionary Housing Payment

24 Jun 14
More than £20m of funds to help people hit by government welfare changes, such as the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, was unclaimed by councils in 2013/14, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.

By Richard Johnstone | 24 June 2014

More than £20m of funds to help people hit by government welfare changes, such as the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, was unclaimed by councils in 2013/14, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has today announced restrictions on migrants’ rights to council housing to ensure ‘everyone who comes here pays their way'. Photo: Shutterstock

According to figures published today, almost two-thirds of councils (63%) paid out less than their total Discretionary Housing Payment allocation to tenants. The DHP allows authorities to top up Housing Benefit to help people affected by the ‘bedroom tax', which cuts the benefit for rooms deemed spare, and the benefit cap, which cuts housing support to ensure that no family receives more than £26,000 a year in state payments.

However,  £13.3m was left over from the initial DHP fund for 2013/14, welfare reform minister Lord Freud announced today, while a further £7.1m was unspent from a top-up fund after three-quarters of councils did not apply for it.

Freud said the government had tripled support for vulnerable people to £180m to ensure help was in place during the government’s welfare reform process. Overall, almost 400,000 DHP awards were made to claimants in 2013/14 to support the most vulnerable people through a range of housing benefit reforms, he said.

‘Today’s figures also show that recent scare stories about councils running out of money were grossly exaggerated,’ he said.

‘We urge people who may need additional help to contact their local authority.

‘Our vital reforms are fixing the broken welfare system by restoring fairness for hardworking people and making sure work always pays, as part of our long-term plan.’

In total, today’s figures reveal that at the end of the financial year, 240 out of 380 local authorities across Britain underspent their DHP funding. Almost 1 in 10 councils spent less than 60% of their total DHP allocation, according to the DWP figures.

The Scottish and Welsh governments provided extra financial support to claimants and 85 councils in England topped up their DHP allocations with their own funding.

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