Friday, 01 July 2016

First councils to test changes warn they need more funding to get started

Benefits cap pilots claim DWP cash is not enough

The first four councils to test the government’s new benefit cap have warned they have not received enough money to implement the changes.

Enfield, Croydon, Haringey and Bromley councils on Monday became the first local authorities to implement the £26,000-a-year benefit cap. The councils must identify who is eligible for the cap and administer the new system.

The Department for Work and Pensions provided £2 million to help the four councils cover implementation costs, such as extra staff, administration, IT work and meeting any shortfall in housing benefit in the short term. The four boroughs have also each been allocated a senior Jobcentre manager to help people find work who are affected by the cap.

But the four councils have each said the money is not enough to cover their costs - in one case, less than half the amount needed.

Haringey Council, which received £115,350 from the DWP, has calculated that its costs will be £220,000 more.

Croydon Council, which received ‘just under £500,000’, said it had not been given the funds it felt it needed. A council spokesperson added: ‘We have had assurances from [Lord David Freud] that he will look at these issues as a matter of priority.’

Enfield Council, which received £815,000, could not provide figures for the total cost of the scheme. But a spokesperson said: ‘It’s difficult to know the scale of homelessness it may cause, in which case it might cost us a lot more.’

Bromley Council, which received the balance of the funding, declined to comment.

Every other council in England will implement the cap from July, with the policy coming fully into force across Britain by the end of September. No further DWP funding is available to help other councils implement the new system. The DWP would not explain how the allocations to the first four boroughs were decided.

Sir Steve Bullock, executive member for housing at umbrella body London Councils, said the early trial would do little to establish the impact of the cap on communities because no analysis would be carried out.

A DWP spokesperson said the department was working closely with the four councils to ensure the ‘right level of support.’

In numbers: total household benefit cap

£305 million amount the Department for Work and Pensions estimates the benefit cap will save by 2014/15

£26,000 total annual benefit cap for couples

£18,000 total annual benefit cap for single people

£65 million amount the DWP has made available in discretionary housing payments

Readers' comments (3)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you’re already a subscriber to Inside Housing, your subscription may not be linked to your online account. You can link your subscription from within the My Account section of the website and clicking on Link My Account.

Not yet a subscriber?

If you don't yet subscribe to Inside Housing, please visit our subscription page to view our various subscription packages.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up

Related

Articles

  • Starter Homes compromise 'not enough'

    31 March 2016

    A major lender has warned that a government compromise over the Starter Homes discount period does not go far enough to win its support.

  • Clark announces brownfield register pilots

    10 March 2016

    The government has announced that 73 councils will pilot new brownfield land registers.

  • Right to Buy pilots open for applications

    25 January 2016

    Housing association tenants will be able to apply formally to buy their homes under five Right to Buy pilot schemes from today.

  • DWP letter follows benefit cap ruling

    27 November 2015

    The Department for Work and Pensions has issued an urgent letter to councils after the High Court ruled the existing £26,000-a-year household benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against disabed people.

  • Sanctuary pilots sprinkler roll out

    14 July 2015

    The UK’s largest housing association is installing sprinklers in one of its tower blocks to test the feasibility of rolling out the fire safety measure across its high-rise homes.

IH Subscription