Housing payments concern

Amber Valley Borough Council is preparing itself for the possibility that funds available for Discretionary Housing Payments to residents may not meet demand.

Discretionary Housing Payments are a way for local authorities to make additional payments to those in most need, above and beyond amounts awarded under the statutory Housing Benefit scheme. The Government has provided councils with grants to enable them to make these payments, but has now announced it will be reducing this grant for the next financial year.

A total of £155,207 in Government grant will be made available in 2015/16 – a reduction of 12%. However, spending on Discretionary Housing Payments in Amber Valley this year is likely to be close to the £176,827 available.

One of the most significant factors affecting Discretionary Housing Payments has been the number of people who have experienced a reduction in their Housing Benefit award because they are deemed to have one more bedroom than they need – the so-called Bedroom Tax.

Commenting on the situation, Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Jones, said: “We are predicting a situation where the Government grant available to us will not cover the Discretionary Housing Payments that we should be making. Given the state of local government finances it is also highly unlikely we will have the funds to make up any shortfall.”

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