Recently released figures show that just under 400,000 households received Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) in 2013/14. These payments are the sticking plaster used to cover up savage cuts to housing benefits and prevent soaring homelessness in the run up to the election. Many of the payments, which are administered by Local Authorities, are being used to meet rent shortfalls due to the Bedroom Tax.
The figures do not show how long people have been given awards for, other than around 15,000 ongoing payments being granted to foster families and disabled people in adapted accommodation hit by the Bedroom Tax or other cuts. They do show however that over 100,000 families were given short term help until they ‘move into alternative accommodation’. These represent people forced out of their homes due to Welfare Reforms. How many have had to uproot children from school and move to new cities is not recorded, and neither is whether they actually secured alternative accommodation or are now living in temporary housing.
Over 20,000 households have received DHPs due to the impact of the Benefit Cap. This is almost half the total of families affected by the cap on Housing Benefits which makes much of London and the South East unaffordable for those out of work. The main reason the Benefit Cap has not yet caused the exodus from London, and the expected spike in the number of homeless families, is because lots of people’s benefits haven’t actually been capped yet. Instead housing costs are now being paid in the most complicated and precarious way possible by Local Authorities.
This makes a mockery of Iain Duncan Smith’s claim to have simplified the benefits system. Every local authority has different rules about who and why someone can receive DHPs creating a postcode lottery for claimants. As this week’s figures show, some Councils have massively overspent their DHP allowances, but several others have underspent. Some twat with a clipboard now makes a decision on whether to condemn people to homelessness, based on the whims of whichever bunch of bastards happens to be running the council at the time.
One thing is for sure which is that this mess is costing a fortune. Whilst lying bastard Lord Fraud desperately tried to mangle the figures, almost £200 million has been spent on DHPs in the last year. That’s on top of the huge costs administering the sweeping changes to Housing Benefits which ran to approaching £50 million for the Benefit Cap alone. This figure also does not include Housing Benefit now being paid out to people forced out of social housing due to the Bedroom Tax and into the vastly more expensive private rented sector. And of course no-one’s really counting the cost of housing people in temporary accommodation, such as hostels or B&Bs after they have been made homeless by Housing Benefit cuts.
Once again the facts are as stark as they are unarguable. Changes to Housing Benefits have led to desperate housing insecurity. What this means is in practice is families unable to plan for the future, children going to bed at night frightened of losing their homes or desperate stress and worry for disabled people receiving help with the Bedroom Tax and knowing that support could be removed at any time. It is utterly inhumane, breath-takingly inept and costing the tax payer a fortune. Just another day at the office then for the fucking idiots currently in charge of the DWP.
You can view the figures at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-2013-to-2014
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