DWP to publish early findings from direct payment projects
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Local Government, Universal Credit
Lord Freud exclusive: Make the poor suffer
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be publishing early findings from the direct payment demonstration projects at the end of October.
The six projects - which see housing providers and their local authority partners roadtest the direct payment of housing benefit to tenants - kicked off in June.
Speaking at the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Annual Conference and Exhibition earlier this month, Lord Freud said the most interesting things he has learned from the demonstration projects is how housing providers are developing their role far beyond that of a landlord.
He said: "They are beginning to look at their tenant base in a much more intensive way.
"They are learning more about their tenants and are uncovering and tackling problems as a result.
"The work that is being done with tenants has resulted in more people opening bank accounts and becoming financially aware.
"We will be publishing some early findings at the end of the month to ensure that what we are learning is being shared with you and with social landlords."
Last month, one of the housing associations involved in the demonstration projects revealed payment errors in the first two months of the project had seen tenants go overdrawn; while another said this month it was stepping up interventions on its project to collect unpaid rent.
Back in June, professor Paul Hickman, who is leading the evaluation of the DWP’s demonstration projects, outlined his approach to the review.
He said it will include tenant surveys and regular contact with stakeholders to ensure lessons are learned to support tenants and safeguard landlords’ rental income.
He said it was incredibly important to understand the local context and that the review would be a "classic piece of action research".
“It’s not a before and after study," he said. "We’re continuously collecting data and constantly feeding back our results.”
However, he warned that it wasn’t about "assessing performance". "It’s about key lessons from the study," he said.
The findings will mark the first of three publicly available reports. ‘Six Months In: Learning the Lessons Summary’ report will be published in Spring 2013, with the final report available in the Autumn of 2013. Each of the reports will be seen by the DWP before they are published.