Council forks out £84,350 in fight against homelessness

Homeless and sleeping rough in the street. The kind of image the Discretionary Housing Payments are intended to help prevent.
Homeless and sleeping rough in the street. The kind of image the Discretionary Housing Payments are intended to help prevent.

More than £80,000 has been spent in just six months by West Lindsey District Council on housing payments for vulnerable people.

Residents on benefits who are struggling to pay their rent, and could be at risk of homelessness, have been helped by the payments.

The largest proportion of the money, 36 per cent, was handed out because of emergency circumstances, such as needing to move house at short notice.

The financial aid has come from the government’s Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) scheme. For the financial year, 2018/19, the council was awarded a total of £181,749, and figures show it spent £84,350 between last April and September.

Homeless charity Crisis welcomed the payments, but was concerned the scheme was not sustainable in the long term

Chief executive Jon Sparks said: “To truly prevent people becoming homeless, we need more than sticking-plaster solutions.”

Financial assistance charity, Turn2us, agreed while pointing out the payments were “a vital source of income” for vulnerable people.

Campaigns manager Matthew Geer said: “Councils are increasingly burdened, and funds are only limited. We would welcome increasing the DHP funding, but this would not solve the problem long term, nor change the lives of people who are struggling.

“The government must act fast to end the rising tide of homelessness across the country by building affordable homes and tackling the issue of high rents.”

For the council, home choices manager Rachel Parkin said: “The DHP budget is used to assist people with rent payments, rent arrears and the costly expense of moving home.

“The focus is to assist households in the short term. DHP is not to be used as a long-term option. We can also assist residents move to a cheaper property to make their living costs more affordable.”

The council’s benefits manager, Angela Matthews, said: “Half of the DHP budget allocated to us was spent in the first six months. This indicates good financial management.”