Councils award over £44m in Discretionary Housing Payments over six months
Over 86,000 Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) awards totalling over £44 million were made by Scotland’s councils over a six month period to support housing costs and mitigate against the ‘bedroom tax’.
The DHP scheme provides financial assistance towards housing costs for those claiming housing benefit.
Statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government revealed that local authorities made over 86,000 during the period 1 April to 30 September 2016. The average award value was £512, typically to cover shortfalls in housing costs through to 31 March 2017.
The total value of DHP awards spent or committed so far for 2016/17 was £44.2 million (88 per cent) of the total estimated funding of £50.2m for 2016/17. Committed spend occurs, for example, if a local authority decides to award funds for the whole of 2016/17, but this may be paid out in instalments throughout the year rather than in one lump sum.
Local authorities received over 75,000 applications for DHPs between April and September 2016. 90,000 applications were processed to determine whether or not to make an award (an application – sometimes made in the previous financial year – can have multiple decisions attached to it).
According to the full statistical publication, these figures are likely to include a sizeable number of cases affected by the bedroom tax, where local authorities have continued to make up the shortfall in tenants’ weekly rent through the use of DHPs.
The Scottish Government is committed to reimbursing local authorities for the impact of the bedroom tax, the final amount of which will be calculated and announced after the end of the 2016/17 financial year.