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DHP pot is sufficient, says government

Fri 08 Nov 2013

The amount of money being made available in discretionary housing payments (DHP) is adequate, the government has stated.

According to data obtained by Inside Housing, 161 out of 212 councils in England spent less than 50 per cent of their DHP funds during the first half of the current financial year.

Six of these spent less than 15 per cent of their DHP allocation, while 33 authorities spent under a quarter of their money.

Wandsworth Council in south London was identified as the smallest spender of DHP funds, as figures showed it was allocated £1.8 million but has used only £150,000 to date.

Inside Housing has therefore said many councils might have to return approximately £26 million to the government unless they start spending their DHP funds.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson has insisted the DHP pot is large enough, as some authorities have complained that DHP funding is insufficient as it stands.

The money was made available to help councils adapt to the introduction of changes to the welfare system earlier this year, such as the benefit cap and the under-occupation penalty for housing benefit claimants.

However, the Local Government Association has pointed out that since the government's welfare reforms are being put in place incrementally, it is "overly simplistic" to say councils are not going to spend their money.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), meanwhile, argued that the benefit cap's influence on DHP is only proving to be a big issue in London. 

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the CIH, instead argued that a lack of council resources is behind the limited use of DHP funds thus far.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has insisted the government's welfare reforms are designed to create a system in which people are helped to "get back on their own two feet", so they can not obtain "pay-outs that are out of reach of the average hard-working family".

For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Murray in our Social Housing Team.

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