Thursday, 25 May 2017

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



  • NLA: rental demand in London 'has nosedived'

    19 January 2017

    Central London’s rental market is “beginning to show signs of topping out”, according to National Landlords Association figures released today.

  • Supported housing demand trumps LHA cap fears

    13 January 2017

    Providers will build supported housing despite the uncertainty surrounding the Local Housing Allowance cap because of overwhelming demand for the specialist accommodation.

  • House prices 'impaired' RTB demand in London

    22 September 2016

    Tenants hoping to access the extended Right to Buy (RTB) in London were frozen out because homes were too expensive to mortgage even with a £100,000 discount, landlords running the pilot have revealed.

  • Landlords warn against post Brexit welfare cuts

    29 June 2016

    Low-income tenants will struggle to cope if the government implements a further round of benefit cuts following the Brexit vote, housing associations have warned.

  • Sturgeon sets out housing and welfare priorities

    25 May 2016

    The Scottish first minister has pledged to use the government’s new welfare powers to “put dignity and respect back at the heart of our social security system”.

IH Subscription