Benefit top-ups suspended as bedroom tax is draining welfare budgets in Falkirk
Many tenants facing eviction in Falkirk are being denied a benefits top-up payment due to the large volume of people already making claims after being affected by the bedroom tax.
Falkirk Council has moved to suspend awards of Discretionary Housing Payments to housing benefit claimants who are struggling to pay their rent but have not been affected by the bedroom tax, reports The Herald Scotland.
The local authority has said that it needs over £.13m to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax in the current financial year, as it currently only has £645,000.
But Falkirk Council has confirmed that 120 applications have been put on hold until the end of September. In a letter sent to affected tenants, it says: “Until our full funding allocation is announced and our policy reviewed, we cannot make payments of DHP to those not affected by [bedroom tax].”
Cosla, the umbrella group representing Scottish local authorities, said: “It is up to each council as to how they manage their DHP funding and Falkirk council is exercising a cautionary approach ahead of a further funding announcement.”
But the Scottish Government said there was no reason for a cut in support for those unaffected by bedroom tax. A spokeswoman said the Government is providing enough cash for councils this year to fully mitigate the bedroom tax.
“There is therefore no reason why Falkirk Council should cut the £51,456 of support that is available to tenants not hit by the bedroom tax,” she said. “Additionally, now that the UK and Scottish Governments have confirmed that the cap on DHPs will be lifted, local authorities are able to add their own funding to cover those tenants.”
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