Council to seek assurances over recurring funding for spare room subsidy

The Highland Council Leader Drew Hendry has welcomed additional funding in this financial year from the UK Government to help claimants affected by removal of the spare room subsidy.

But he is to write to the Department for Work and Pensions to seek assurances that the funding will be recurring over future years to ease the financial pressures on tenants, who lose out through welfare reform or as an alternative to seek an exemption for those tenants who, through no fault of their own, are unable to find alternative accommodation.

The Council is to receive an additional £32,690 for 2013/14 to provide targeted support to help meet the housing needs of claimants. 

At the same time, the DWP has increased the Council’s discretionary housing payment fund for 2013/14 by £771,009 to £987,115.

And the Council is also able to bid for extra funding from a new £20 million Discretionary Housing Payment  Fund.

Councillor Hendry said: “This is welcome response to the repeated representations we have made on this crucially important subject.  It is good news for many tenants affected by housing benefit reform in our rural area where there is limited stock of social housing and it is almost impossible for tenants to move to a smaller house. This additional funding is for 2013-14.  What we need is a guarantee that this level of funding is provided year on year.”

As at 30 July, the total number of tenants in the Highlands affected by the spare room subsidy is 2,702.  Of this total, 1,803 are Council tenants. 

The total number of tenants with one spare bedroom, thereby facing a 14% reduction in housing benefit is 2,246 and the total number of tenants with two or more spare bedrooms, facing a 25% reduction in benefit is 456.

31 Jul 2013