HUNDREDS of benefit claimants have applied for extra help to pay their rent following the introduction of the bedroom tax.
Between April and the end of August, 396 people applied for additional financial support through the Isle of Wight Council’s Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) fund, 336 of whom were successful. The authority paid out £105,509 to cover the claims.
The discretionary payments, which are awarded on a short-term, emergency basis to cover shortfalls between rental liability and housing benefit payments, are aimed at alleviating poverty and preventing homelessness among the most vulnerable.
Although the DHP fund is administered by the council, it is paid for by central government. The Department for Work and Pensions has allocated £237,944 to the council to cover payments during the 2013/14 financial year.
Following the introduction of the bedroom tax, tenants have faced a 14 per cent cut in their housing benefit if they have a spare bedroom and a 25 per cent cut if they have two.
It has been met with widespread criticism, particularly from disabled people who said an extra room was vital if their partner cared for them.
Figures published by the council revealed 811 claimants on the IW were currently affected by the tax, and their benefit had been reduced by an average of £12.55 per week.
The council’s DHP policy, which sets out who can make a claim and when payments should be awarded, was approved by the council cabinet last Tuesday.
l If you have been affected by a cut in benefit due to the bedroom tax, contact our newsdesk on 01983 522210, or e-mail email@example.com