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Councils warned to spend millions in bedroom tax assistance money as deadline looms

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Councils warned to spend millions in bedroom tax assistance money as deadline looms

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Finance, Housing

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Millions of pounds in funds set aside to help victims of the government's bedroom tax and other welfare reforms are yet to be allocated by local authorities across Scotland - with the deadline fast approaching.

With the 31 March cut-off for discretionary housing payment (DHP) budget allocation less than three weeks away, housing charity Shelter Scotland is urging councils to do all they can to help struggling tenants access the fund.

The charity’s analysis of Scottish government figures found that by 31 December 2013 more than £15 million in DHP money remained unspent. And a quarter of local authorities had spent less than 30% of their DHP budget for 2013-14, with only 10 councils having spent 90% or more.

Shelter Scotland is now urging local authorities to move quickly and take a proactive approach, and wants each council to review and publish DHP policies in light of the Scottish government’s £20m top up, to re-assess earlier applications and to promote the fund to potential recipients.

Shelter Scotland's director, Graeme Brown, said: “Shelter Scotland has been campaigning for an end to the bedroom tax since before it was introduced and we managed to get the Scottish government to make £20m extra available to local authorities to help people struggling to pay their rent.

"We are concerned that there is still a significant number of struggling tenants eligible to receive this money who are not getting it – whatever the reason.

“It would be shameful if all the money now available isn’t spent.

“We urge every local authority to do all they can to help as many people as possible as a matter of urgency and anyone struggling with their rent to apply for help. Failure to do so just doesn’t make sense and would mean that, instead of getting help, some people would face the very real threat of mounting rent arrears, eviction and homelessness.”

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