Capital gets largest slice of benefit fund
London councils will receive the lion’s share of a fund to help struggling housing benefit claimants pay their rent, the welfare reform minister said today.
Lord Freud announced regional allocations of the first tranche of the £130 million discretionary housing payment. The fund is designed to help claimants find a new property if the government’s cuts to their benefit mean they can no longer afford their current home.
Councils in London will receive £8 million out of the £30 million allocation announced today. The Department for Work and Pensions has calculated that the capital will be worst hit by the cuts, which include caps on the amount of housing benefit that will be paid per bedroom, and a move from paying housing benefit based on the median of local rents to 30 per cent of rents instead.
Local authorities in Scotland will receive £2.5 million, with £1.5 million going to Wales and £17.5 million for the rest of England. The remaining funding will be allocated over the next four years.
MPs and housing organisations have warned the housing benefit cuts, announced in June’s emergency Budget and the comprehensive spending review in October, will increase homelessness.
Speaking at the British Property Federation’s conference in London, Lord Freud hit out at critics of the cuts. He said: ‘It is wrong for anyone to suggest that many people will become homeless because of our housing reforms – the discretionary housing payments are there to provide a safety net for those who need it.’
London Assembly member Jenny Jones, who is deputy chair of the assembly’s planning and housing committee, said the £8 million is not enough.
‘We need five times as much for people forced to suffer their steep rents with less help following the cuts,’ she said. ‘The mayor’s experts say families alone need £29 million.’
Discretionary housing payment allocations
- East midlands £1,270,098
- Eastern £2,203,059
- Greater London £4,159,705
- Inner London £4,021,349
- North east £866,262
- North west £2,986,408
- Scotland £2,676,839
- South east £3,797,937
- South west £2,236,504
- Wales £1,422,995
- West midlands £2,345,663
- Yorks and Humberside £2,013,181