Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bedroom tax prompts surge in applications for discretionary housing payments

Councils swamped with demand for welfare fund

More councils across Britain are reporting a surge in demand for an emergency hardship fund following the introduction of the bedroom tax.

Inside Housing last Thursday revealed eight local authorities have experienced a sharp jump in the number of applications from claimants for discretionary housing payments since 1 April.

Now 15 more councils have also revealed increased applications for DHPs (see box).

Glasgow Council has received 5,501 DHP applications in April, compared to 1,437 in the same period last year. Liverpool Council received 1,265 applications in April compared with 138 in a typical month, while Sheffield Council received around 1,400, compared with an average of just 100 per month throughout the 2012/13 financial year. Of these 1,400, Sheffield Council has made 600 awards totalling £140,000. A spokesperson said: ‘Sheffield Council’s DHP grant for 2013-14 is £995,802.

‘We have estimated that Sheffield’s social housing tenants will see a total shortfall in housing benefit as a result of the bedroom tax of more than £4.5 million in 2013.’

Twelve other local authorities also reported increases: Spelthorne, Oxford, Harlow, Amber Valley, Suffolk Coastal, Maldon, Wycombe, Welwyn and Hatfield, Telford and Wrekin, Craven, Eastbourne and Derbyshire Dales councils. These 12 English councils reported combined DHP applications of 1,070 in April this year, compared with 252 in the same period last year.

DHPs are intended as a short-term measure to help people who are finding it difficult to cover their living costs due to welfare reforms. The government expanded the DHP pot from £60 million last year to £150 million for 2013/14, with £25 million earmarked for disabled people hit by the bedroom tax who have had their homes significantly adapted. Under the bedroom tax, social housing tenants of working age deemed to have spare rooms have their benefit cut.

Councils to report increased DHP applications since the introduction of the bedroom tax:

  • Amber Valley
  • Birmingham
  • Craven
  • Derbyshire Dales
  • Eastbourne
  • Glasgow
  • Harlow
  • Hull
  • Leeds 
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Maldon
  • Oxford
  • Sefton
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • Southwark
  • Spelthorne
  • Suffolk Coastal
  • Telford & Wrekin
  • Waltham Forest
  • Welwyn & Hatfield
  • Wycombe

Readers' comments (27)

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



  • Fund targets councils without five-year plan

    10 November 2015

    A new investment fund plans to target areas of South East England where councils have not identified five years of land for housing development.

  • 'Councils must do better at meeting housing demand'

    24 June 2015

    Councils are ‘not quite there yet’ in helping plug the gap in demand for homes, the chief executive of research organisation Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference in Manchester yesterday.

  • IDS re-appointed to lead welfare cuts

    11 May 2015

    Iain Duncan Smith has been re-appointed as work and pensions secretary to oversee £12bn of fresh welfare cuts and push ahead with universal credit.

  • Concern over welfare payment slowdown


    The amount of time landlords have been waiting to receive rent under universal credit has jumped because of government delays in processing payments.

  • 'Welfare of thousands of homeless babies at risk'

    11 February 2015

    Charities are calling on the government to improve services to young homeless families as they say the welfare of thousands of babies without a home is at risk. 

IH Subscription