Millions of pounds still available in housing fund
- Published on Friday, 20 December 2013 14:20
- Written by Daniel Mason
Tens of millions of pounds specifically ring-fenced to help people adapt to welfare reforms this year is still available through local authorities.
New figures show that half way through the financial year, 70% of councils have committed to pay out less than half of their total Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation to their residents.
Around 1 in 6 councils have committed to pay out less than a quarter. The lowest spending council has committed only 7%.
Minister for Employment Esther McVey said: "We are fixing the benefits system, but we have ensured help is there for people as we go through the changes. There is a significant amount of cash still available to help people who need extra support – despite scare stories that the funding would run out in a matter of months.
"It is encouraging that the vast majority of councils appear to be spending the money wisely and ensuring it goes to the people who need it most. But the cash is there to be used and we urge people who need an extra bit of help to contact their local authority."
The government tripled the DHP fund this year to £180m to help people adapt to far reaching welfare reforms, such as the removal of the spare room subsidy and the introduction of the benefit cap.
Figures from the 323 councils that provided returns revealed that £54.3m was given out.
Additional funding of £20m was announced in the summer and councils are encouraged to bid for the extra cash if they could demonstrate they may need extra help.
Today the government also announced £3.3m of this extra DHP funding has been awarded to 29 councils around the country.
The removal of the spare room subsidy ensures housing benefit pays for the size of property a household needs. It aims to free-up space for the 375,000 families in England and Wales who live in overcrowded accommodation, while approaching 1 million rooms go spare in under-occupied social housing.
On top of this there are approximately 1.8m households on the housing waiting list in England. It is right that we tackle this issue and bring fairness back to the system.