Benefits handout doubled to £1.1m as Bradford Council proposes changes over the ‘bedroom tax’ (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Benefits handout doubled to £1.1m as Bradford Council proposes changes over the ‘bedroom tax’
Changes to a benefit for vulnerable people affected by welfare changes are being proposed by Bradford Council as it was revealed the Government is more than doubling the local pot of cash for those in need.
From April there will be £1.1 million of Government cash to deliver Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), more than double this year’s £481,618. The payments will be made to assist those hit by the so-called “bedroom tax” contained in the welfare changes.
They could help people move to a cheaper or more suitable property, especially if their home has more bedrooms than they need. It will also help those with disabilities remain in their specially adapted homes.
The Council’s report on the DHP scheme will go before the executive on Tuesday. The aims of the proposed changes are to keep rental accommodation affordable with the introduction of a maximum weekly award which will ensure rents above market value are not supported by the fund, prevent unnecessary homelessness, especially families and vulnerable groups, help claimants live in accommodation appropriate to their household needs, including disabled adaptations, children’s education and additional rooms for foster carers.
The fund will help claimants remain in their home and homeless claimants secure new appropriate accommodation.
The report states: “DHPs cannot be considered a permanent arrangement and normally awards should not exceed 52 weeks.
“The maximum weekly award of DHP is limited to £30 unless the period of payment is less than 13 weeks and the total award is equal to or less than £650.”
The changes also aim to ensure any disruption caused by welfare reforms to a child’s education are minimised. If given the go-ahead, the changes will come into force on April 1. But the National Housing Federation has already warned that the bedroom tax will unfairly hit the disabled. The federation said that of the estimated 4,983 people in Bradford who will see their housing benefit cut from April 1, about 3,139 will have a disability.
They say the new under-occupany rules will affect all working-age housing benefit claimants deemed to have one or more extra bedrooms.
Claimants deemed to have one spare bedroom in such homes will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit – and those with two or more will lose 25 per cent.
A federation spokesman said: “If the Government’s Discretionary Housing Payments fund was shared equally among disabled people hit by the tax they would each receive as little as £1.40 a week.
The Council said that the fund is managed and monitored carefully to ensure that the most vulnerable groups receive help. “We have carefully modelled numbers of people who are likely to qualify based on those impacted by the welfare reform changes and past numbers. In the unlikely event that it runs out we cannot make further awards,” the spokesman added.
“In 2011 there were 1,270 applications from people needing help.”