North Lincolnshire Council were the lowest spenders of Discretionary Housing Payments in the country for financial year 2016/17. This is money given to councils by Government to help local people who fall into short term difficulties paying their rent. Unspent money is sent back and spent elsewhere in the country.
Conservative North Lincolnshire Council spent the lowest proportion of money allocated, spending only 17% of their allocation on helping local people. Of the 375 councils that spent their Discretionary Housing Payments budget only eight spent less than half.
I have obtained figures from the Department for Work and Pensions which show that North Lincolnshire had £294,816 available to spend from the Government but spent only £50,735.
The seven local authorities who spent less cash than North Lincolnshire Council all spend above 45% of the money made available to them.
Discretionary Housing Payments are temporary and made available to people who due to a change in circumstances are struggling to cover their rent. It can also help with one-off costs like a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs to help you move into a new home.
Many people have struggled to make ends meet because of the Bedroom Tax and other changes in circumstance. The Discretionary Housing Payments is there to assist in these times of trouble. North Lincolnshire Council spent nothing to help people in the following areas:
To help with short term rental costs while the claimant seeks employment- £0
To help with on-going rental costs for disabled person in adapted accommodation- £0
To help with on-going rental costs for a foster carer- £0
The amount spent on helping to secure and move on to alternative accommodation (e.g. rent deposit) for those affected by Local Housing Allowance reforms North Lincolnshire spend £7.
This money is given to local authorities for them to spend helping local people. It is money that would be spent in the local area in local businesses.
People contact me every week where there circumstances have changed and they find it difficult to pay their rent in the short term. Too often they are refused Discretionary Housing Payments by our Conservative Council. And the money that could have been spent to help them is spent elsewhere in the country. It’s time for the Council to wake up to its responsibilities and use the money that it is given to help local people who are struggling.