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£8m in DHP funds left unspent by councils

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£8m in DHP funds left unspent by councils

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Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Finance, Housing

£8m in DHP funds left unspent by councils £8m in DHP funds left unspent by councils

Councils across Britain failed to spend nearly £8m in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) last year, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

From an available pot of £30m, councils in Scotland, England and Wales collectively managed to leave £7,892,114 unspent, according to the FOI obtained by Landlord Information Network.

DHP funds are made available to people claiming housing benefit or council tax benefit but who are having difficulty paying their rent.

Councils have claimed that they failed to spend all of their allocations in anticipation of benefit changes, however, there are suggestions that reductions in housing benefit staff is hampering councils' ability to administer the funds.

A spokesman from the DWP said a decision was made last year to allow councils to carry-over any unspent DHP funds into the next year. Many had decided to do this, he added, as a strategy to face the planned benefit changes.

However, Claire Turner, Director at Landlord Information Network, believes that the real reason that so many councils have failed to spend the DHP funds available to them is that they may not have the staff to cope with processing the increased number of claims and that, historically, the DHP fund has not been publicised very well.

The biggest under-spender was Westminster City Council, which didn't capitalise on £706,599 (64%) of its £1,104,144 funds. Last month it was reported Westminster was sending homeless families up to 54 miles away to find accommodation.

Brent Council was the second biggest under-spender, failing to tap into £373,485 of the £539,188 funds available to it.

This year's DHP pot is £60m. Next year's will rise to £165m but the year following will see the fund drop down to £145m.

Last year's top ten under-spenders were:

Westminster                     £706,599
Brent                                  £373,485
Manchester                       £269,491
Brighton & Hove              £239,142
Haringey                            £184,289
Hackney                            £184,041
Leeds                                 £160,127
Birmingham                      £152,283
Camden                             £150,963
Kensington & Chelsea     £148,333


Why aren't councils claiming millions in DHP funds to help homeless tenants?



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