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Councils not spending welfare reform adaptation cash

The DWP says most councils under-spent their allocation of cash to help people adapt to welfare reforms, and three-quarters did not apply for money from a £20m top-up fund.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of councils paid out less than their total Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation to tenants, leaving £13.3m left over, and £7.1m of a £20m top-up fund went unclaimed.

Minister for welfare reform, Lord Freud, said: “We tripled support for vulnerable people to £180m last year to ensure the right help was in place during our far-reaching welfare reforms and it is good to see that people have benefited from that support as they adapt to the changes.

“Today’s figures also show that recent scare stories about councils running out of money were grossly exaggerated. We urge people who may need additional help to contact their local authority.

“Our vital reforms are fixing the broken welfare system by restoring fairness for hardworking people and making sure work always pays, as part of our long-term plan.”

The DWP figures also show:

  • At the end of the financial year, 240 out of 380 local authorities across Great Britain underspent their DHP funding
  • Almost 1 in 10 councils spent less than 60% of their total DHP allocation, and 18 councils spent less than half
  • In total, almost 400,000 DHP awards were made to claimants in 2013/14 to support the most vulnerable people through a range of housing benefit reforms
  • Over 160,000 of these awards were for extra funding to help claimants with housing costs while they look for work or more suitable accommodation, or to support them moving house

The Scottish and Welsh Governments provided extra financial support to claimants and an additional 85 councils in England topped up their DHP funding.

Lord Freud said: “We have given councils £165m this year – on top of £180m last year – to help the most vulnerable claimants adjust to our necessary reforms.”

(Image copyright Shelter Scotland)

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