Shropshire Council consults on underspending support schemes for needy

Two years ago, further responsibility for discretionary payments to people in need was transferred from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to local councils. That was a perfectly sensible decision as local councils are better placed to determine local needs than a central government department. But since then, Shropshire has underspent the allocated budgets for Discretionary Housing Payments and the Local Support and Prevention Fund.

The Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) scheme gives financial support towards housing costs over and above housing benefit. The Local Support and Prevention Fund (LSPF) provides support payments and crisis funds, known as prevention payments. Now Shropshire Council is consulting on how it should allocate the money in future years. The deadline for responses is 23 April.

With my limited knowledge, the criteria it is proposing for allocating funds look about right. But I do think it needs to beef up its communication strategy so that people in need know that these schemes exist. Continue reading “Shropshire Council consults on underspending support schemes for needy”

The bedroom tax undermines families and communities

The bedroom tax that comes into force today slaps an extra £14 a week on social tenants with a room that is deemed to be “spare”.

This tax is iniquitous. It will undermine families, communities and friendships. It will not solve the fundamental problem of a shortage of affordable housing. It will force tenants to divert money from food and heating, and risk their health in doing so.

What daft person in Westminster failed to realise that families need stability and that this will be undermined by shuffling them around according to an arbitrary view of need for bedrooms?

What should the government have done?

It should end the Right to Buy which reduces stock housing stock. It should allow more homes to be built by permitting councils to increase borrowing against future rental income. This would boost local employment, as well as creating wider opportunities for social tenants to downsize, upsize and move between areas. A flexible social housing will strengthen society, not undermine it.

In the last few years, we have abandoned a social housing policy that provides homes in favour of one that regards housing merely as numbers, not family homes. We have adopted policies that undermine families and friendships, and weaken communities.

All of the political parties say they are committed to family life and building communities. So why are they introducing policies that undermine their own principles and philosophies?

The political village of Westminster has become so remote from the real world that few of our senior politicians have a clue about how their policies affect ordinary people. Or about how much it costs to live. That applies to civil servants in Whitehall too.

A longer version of this article will be found on my blog at 24dash.com.