£20 million support for welfare reform claimants unspent

New figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that almost two-thirds, or 63 per cent of councils paid out less than their total Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation to tenants, leaving £13.3 million left over. In addition, around three-quarters of councils did not apply for a £20 million government top-up fund to help claimants adjust to welfare changes, leaving a further £7.1 million unspent.

The new figures also revealed that:

  • at the end of the financial year, 240 out of 380 local authorities (LAs) across Great Britain under spent their DHP funding
  • almost one in ten councils spent less than 60 per cent of their total DHP allocation, and 18 councils spent less than half
  • in total, 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
  • over 160,000 of these awards were for extra funding to help claimants with housing costs while they look for work or more suitable accommodation, or to support them moving house

Thousands of people have been awarded DHP funding to help them manage both their short and long-term housing costs. The Scottish and Welsh Governments provided extra financial support to claimants and an additional 85 councils in England topped up their DHP funding.

The government have given councils £165 million in 2014 – on top of £180 million last year – to help the most vulnerable claimants adjust to the reforms.

Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform commented that the figures “also show that recent scare stories about councils running out of money were grossly exaggerated.” He urged people who may need additional help “to contact their local authority.”

Further information is available here.