Response: Discretionary Housing Payments good practice manual

By: Kate Webb  Published: August 2012


Discretionary Housing Payments have been Ministers’ preferred solution for addressing the “hard cases” that will arise as a result of housing benefit cuts. In Shelter’s view this is an inappropriate response and specific exemptions should have been agreed. The role of DHPs appears to be increasingly shifting from emergency short-term assistance to a long-term solution to funding services. Our response to the DWP consultation on good practice for DHPs makes a number of recommendations.

Summary

We welcome the opportunity to comment on the revised good practice manual for the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP). The budget for DHPs has been significantly increased following the changes to housing benefit set out in the 2010 Emergency Budget and Spending Review. Shelter has raised repeated concerns at the impact these reforms will have on low income households, who will be put at risk of debt, arrears and homelessness. These concerns were echoed by parliamentarians during the passage of the Welfare Reform Act, necessitating DWP to announce an additional £30 million per annum to support households affected by the size criteria and £75 million in 2013/14 and £45 million in 2014/15 for the overall benefit cap.

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