Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has strongly criticised the government’s decision, announced today, to cut local authorities’ budgets for discretionary housing payments by 24% (from £165m in 2014 -15 to £125m for 2015-16)1
Local authorities can make discretionary housing payments (DHPs) to help low-income households who rent their homes to meet their housing costs. Funding for DHPs is allocated to local authorities by the DWP.
Social security changes - including the bedroom tax, benefit cap and local housing allowances - have left many families with a gap between their rent and housing benefit, which they cannot bridge. DHPs are intended to mitigate some of this effect and have been targeted at those most in need, including families with severe disabilities, foster carers and those with very young children.
CPAG Chief Executive Alison Garnham said:
“Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) have protected many families with children against some of the worst pain from severe benefit cuts and harsher eligibility rules. The need for them, among working and non-working families, has been - and remains - acute. Children have been hit hardest by benefit cuts and reducing DHP funding now will cut the parachute cord for the most vulnerable families.
“Doing the right thing by families and the taxpayer is clearly affordable. Spending on DHPs is relatively small; for every £17 in estimated savings from the Government social security cuts, only £1 has been reinvested in DHPs. The government has also relied on this funding to shield welfare reform policies from being declared illegal for discriminating against vulnerable groups.
“The case for maintaining DHP funding is now strong. If the cuts go ahead, more families will be pushed towards homelessness and destitution because they can’t afford their rent or have to choose between eating and paying the rent. Beyond that, it will be social services, housing departments and health services who will be asked to cope with more families in crisis – at ever greater cost.”
Note to Editors:
Details of funding for DHPs, announced today, is here.
CPAG’s policy note on DHPs is here.
In order to be eligible for a DHP, a household needs to be entitled to housing benefit, council tax benefit or both and “…appear to [their local authority] to require some further financial assistance (in addition to the benefit or benefits to which they are entitled) in order to meet housing costs.” (Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 SI No. 11167 p1599)
Welfare reform policies have significantly cut the support families can claim through housing benefit. These cuts include the bedroom tax (or social sector size criteria), benefit cap and cuts for tenants in the private rented sector.
The table below shows DHP funding levels against the cuts to housing support as a result of welfare reforms.
Table 2: Cuts to housing support, 2011/12-2014/15 (£ million)
- CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
- CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisation, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.
For further information please contact:
CPAG Press and Campaigns Officer
Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302
- 1. Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 SI No. 11167 p1599