Over three quarters of councils are ignoring the Government on emergency housing payments and are penalising disabled people as a result, says leading charity Papworth Trust.
The Government asked councils to prioritise these payments, known as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), for disabled people who live in adapted homes and are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
However Freedom of Information requests to 222 local authorities across the UK show that more non disabled people are receiving the payments than disabled people.
Papworth Trust Strategy Director David Martin says: “Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not supposed to cover housing costs. However three quarters of councils are ignoring Government guidance to not take DLA into account when means testing these payments, so disabled people appear to have a higher income than non disabled people. As a result, a third of disabled people are refused emergency housing payments.
“Our ongoing research into the effects of ‘bedroom tax’ has shown that almost 9 in 10 disabled people refused these payments are then cutting back on essentials like food and drink or household bills.
“This policy is penalising disabled people living in adapted homes. We are calling on the Government to immediately ban councils from taking DLA into account when assessing income, as they have already done for other means tested benefits such as Housing Benefit.”
Last month Lord Freud2 said that “One of the fundamental objectives of providing discretionary housing payments is to make sure that where there are significant adaptations in homes for disabled people there will be discretionary housing payments for those people.”
Papworth Trust is suggesting that one simple solution is to exempt people living in adapted properties. The charity believes this will save councils money in assessing these applications and save tenants the anxiety of applying for emergency housing payments.
Disability charity Papworth Trust supports people to have equality, choice and independence in their lives. Each year we work with over 20,000 people through a range of services, including support with care, leisure activities and practical help around the home. For more information please visit www.papworth.org.uk.