Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) can only go so far in compensating for a welfare benefits system that’s been subject to a decade of cuts and now fails to cover the rents of many Londoners who need that help. But they’re of real value in softening some of the blows that system inflicts and buying time some of those struggling to cover their rents can use to pursue (better-paid) work or different accommodation. Local authorities rely heavily on them for their vital work to prevent homelessness.
So, I’m disappointed that this year’s Government funding is lower than last year’s – at the very point when landlords are resuming evictions and, especially in London, many people who lost jobs and claimed benefits last year are becoming subject to the Benefit Cap. This is bad for Londoners who need extra help to cover their rent and bad for local authorities whose work to prevent homelessness is already hugely challenging.
That’s why my Deputy Mayor for Housing asked the Government for extra funding for DHPs. I’ve also urged the Government to help renters who’ve accrued arrears because of the pandemic, but aren’t eligible for DHPs because they don’t receive benefits for housing costs.