Housing and Council Tax Support

The removal of the spare room subsidy from Housing Benefit (HB) – sometimes referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’ – is currently affecting around 3,900 people in the district (February 2019). The numbers affected have been falling slowly. Overall Housing Benefit (HB) claiming levels are also falling but the number of working people claiming HB is higher than in the past, with around 3,500 claimants in February 2019 compared to 1,700 in February 2009. This trend is also evident nationally.

People claiming Housing Benefit needing more help with housing costs – through the loss of spare room subsidy, for example – may make a claim to the Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Before the removal of the spare room subsidy the annual amount of DHP awarded was around £275,300, but this amount has risen steeply since the subsidy was removed in April 2013 (see table).

Discretionary Housing Payments.
Source: Wakefield Council

Council Tax Support

Council Tax Benefit was replaced by Council Tax Support in April 2013. Local authorities are responsible for the design of some aspects of this new scheme (certain pensioner discounts are protected), and it has also been left to local authorities to decide how much of the 10% drop in Government grant for this benefit they protect from other budgets. Since Council Tax Support began the amount awarded to people pension age has fallen due to the phased increases in the state pension age for women and changes to eligibility criteria (see chart below). The amount of Council Tax Support awarded to people of working age has fallen due to reduction in the size of discounts for some people, and because increasing employment levels are moving some people out of the benefit eligibility.

Value of Council Tax Support awarded.
Source: Wakefield Council

Local Welfare Provision

The responsibility for Local Welfare Provision was passed to Councils from the Department for Work and Pensions with effect from 1 April 2013. The Council received grant funding of £943k in each of the financial years 2013/14 and 2014/15. Councils will not receive any further specific grant funding for local welfare provision beyond 2014/15 and in future will have to support Local Welfare Provision within existing budgets and from earlier grant under-spend. Just under £300,00 has been awarded in each of the last two years (see table below).

Local Welfare Provision.
Source: Wakefield Council