Tens of thousands of Scots struggling to cope with draconian welfare cuts have been awarded a total value of £46 million is Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), new figures reveal.
Statistics released today (24 February 2015) by Scotland’s Chief Statistician reveal that local authorities received nearly 110,000 applications to the fund between April to December 2014.
Of those requests, 106,000 were processed and more than 101,000 were granted – with the average award being £456.
DHP’s are used to support Housing Benefit claimants at risk of poverty and/or losing their home in the wake of UK Government welfare changes, such as the benefit cap and so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
They can also be used to provide financial assistance for people affected by reductions in Local Housing Allowance (LHA), the equivalent of Housing Benefit for private renters.
Figures show that over 70,000 Scottish households have been affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ since it was first introduced in April 2013.
Social housing tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying their home are required to contribute toward their rent through a deduction in Housing Benefit – 14% for one spare room or 24% for two or more.
The Scottish Government has promised to fully mitigate the effect of the bedroom tax in Scotland, and pledged £35 million for 2015 and 2016 to help support affected households.
Scottish Ministers now have the power to determine the limit of local authority DHP expenditure, from 2014/15 onwards.
Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said:
“Discretionary Housing Payments are a lifeline for claimants who need extra help with housing costs or to offset the effects of the bedroom tax, which affects over 70,000 households.
“Using the new powers coming to Scotland, the Scottish Government will abolish the bedroom tax as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, the Scottish Government is providing £35 million this year, and the same next year, to councils to fully mitigate the bedroom tax.
This funding is making a real difference with today’s statistics showing over 100,000 awards have helped people across Scotland avoid arrears or eviction.”