Issue - meetings

Issue - meetings

Discretionary Housing Payments spend

Meeting: 07/11/2016 - Scrutiny Committee (Item 58)

58 Monitoring of Discretionary Housing Payments pdf icon PDF 158 KB



Background Information


The Scrutiny Committee scrutinised the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) policyin April 2016.  The Committee supported the revised Policy and agreed to monitor spend during the year.


Why is it on the agenda?


For the Scrutiny Committee to monitor and comment on DHP spend.  The Committee is asked to note the report and may also wish to agree recommendations to put to the City Executive Board in December.


Who has been invited to comment?


·         Councillor Susan Brown, Board Member for Customer & Corporate Services;

·         Paul Wilding, Revenue & Benefits Programme Manager.






Cllr Brown, Board member for Customer and Corporate Services presented the report. She told the Committee was today was the first day of the new benefit limits.


The Committee made the following comments


Cllr Pegg asked if there was a number that concerned benefit recipients could call. She asked that advice on how to assist people and the phone number be sent to all councillors.  The Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager agreed to do this.


Cllr Simmons asked how much of the grant the Council was using and how much do we predict to use? -  Cllr Brown said that the Council hadn’t spent half of the budget because we’ve been aware of the lower benefit cap being introduced. The Council has been saving money to assist households that need help over the next few months.


Cllr Simmons asked if there had been any progress on the London grant levels in Oxford. Cllr Brown said the Council continues to lobby government on having London levels on all sorts of things.


Cllr Chapman asked if the government grant will be the same next year.  The Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager said he expected the total grant settlement to be around 500,000.  There has been approximately a £1.1M reduction in benefits, so there will be pressure on the budget.


Cllr Fry asked if there had been implications on officer time due to the increased demand. The Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager said that additional funding had been secured from DWP for administration which would fund a full time post for 1 year.  The team now consist of 4 members with a caseload of 30-40 people each. The challenge will be to manage the caseload and work out on-going workload.


Cllr Azad asked how the team could prevent homelessness in the private rental sector.

The Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager explained that Support would be given irrespective of living conditions, with the aim being to keeping people in their properties.


The Chair asked if any progress had been made on the Scrutiny Committees previous recommendation 2: on approaches being taken by other local authorities.

Cllr Brown said the team is actually leading the way for other councils to follow.


Cllr Simmons asked why the Council doesn’t top up the fund and asked if other councils were topping up?

The Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager said that most of the other council aren’t topping up their fund as they can’t financially afford to.


The Scrutiny Committee noted the report and thanked officers for their good work.