Issue - decisions
Discretionary Housing Payment Policy - 2016 revision
The Executive Director, Organisational Development & Corporate Servicessubmitted a report seeking approval of the revised Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) policy for 2016.
The Executive Board member for Customer and Corporate Services presented the report.
Councillor Fooks said she hoped that the council could help as much as possible and while it could not offer unlimited support should offer ongoing support in genuinely exceptional circumstances where there is no other option.
The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee presented the committee’s recommendations. The Board noted the Scrutiny Committee report and their published responses to the recommendations.
The City Executive Board resolved to:
Approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment policy as set out in the report and appendices.
The Head of Customer Services has submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended) which detailed the revised Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Policy
Cllr Brown, Board Member for Customer Services and Social Inclusion presented the report. She explained that the Council had received fewer applications for DHP as fewer people were able to afford to live in Oxford. This was a failure of the national policy which didn’t vary the amount of grant available depending on local housing prices.
The government’s DHP grant had reduced significantly which meant the Council had introduced conditionality to its policy to prioritise need. The effects of this policy change will be monitored and an update report will be presented to the Board in 6 months.
Cllr Fooks noted that the Council had returned DHP grant money to the government in both the previous two years because it had not spend it. She disagreed with the policy change and the argument that prioritisation of need was needed to discourage welfare dependency. She felt that if the money was available the Council should spend it to help people.
Cllr Turner agreed that the Council shouldn’t have excess money in contingencies; he believed that all Councillors agreed with the policy and it was the amount of funds allocated to DHP payments which was causing disagreement. It was the government’s decoupling of rents from money available in housing allowance which was at fault.
The Chief Executive explained that officers had been very proactive in helping people through the welfare reform programmes. If there is a need, the council will meet it from the homelessness contingency budget.
Cllr Simmons said the Scrutiny Committee had requested a review report in a few months’ time. He reminded the Board that the government allowed the Council to spend up to 2.5 times the government grant - to top up its DHP grant.
Cllr Brown said the Council had to be cautious as we don’t know the amount the government grant will be in the future.
The City Executive Board resolved to
- APPROVE the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy at Appendix 1
- AGREE that an update report be presented to the Board at the end of quarter 2 (if not sooner) reviewing the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment Policy and its impact on the people of Oxford.