West Lindsey sees increase in emergency payments

Housing crisis: The kind of image Discretionary Housing Payments are intended to help prevent.
Housing crisis: The kind of image Discretionary Housing Payments are intended to help prevent.

More than £80,000 has been spent in just six months by West Lindsey District Council on housing payments for vulnerable people as applications rise.

The need for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is on the increase with applications to the council up by 50 per cent in the first six months of 2018/19 (April to September) compared to 2017/18.

The financial aid has come from the government’s scheme which assists residents on benefits with rent payments, rent arrears, or helps people with the costly expense of moving home, such as rent in advance which people may not have been able to afford otherwise.

The largest proportion of the money (36 per cent) was handed out because of emergency circumstances, such as needing to move house at short notice.

Angela Matthews, the council’s benefits manager said: “DHP can only be paid where there is an existing entitlement to Housing Benefit or the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit.

“Half of the budget allocated to us by Central Government for DHP was spent in the first six month period, which indicates good financial management from the council as we have allowed the budget to be sustained for the full 12-month period.”

Rachel Parkin, Home Choices Manage, said: “ The focus with Discretionary Housing Payments is to assist households in the short term and not to use this as a long term option. The council can also assist residents by looking at other factors in an individual’s situation, such as moving to a cheaper property to make their living costs more affordable.”

The Government awarded the council £181,749 for the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for the 2018-19 financial year.

Last financial year, the authority used less than three quarters of its allocated funding.

For 2018-19, £153 billion in DHP funding has been awarded across England and Wales.

Homeless charity Crisis welcomed the payments, but was concerned the scheme was not sustainable in the long term.

Chief executive Jon Sparks said: “To truly prevent people becoming homeless, we need more than sticking-plaster solutions.”