Council calls for Government housing benefits funding review
Councillors at Telford & Wrekin Council are calling for an urgent review of the Government’s funding provision for housing benefits and the way they are issued to local authorities.
At a full council meeting on 19 January, Councillor Paul Watling, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, put forward a motion urging the Government to reconsider the way it funds housing benefit which is allocated to supported housing.
The motion, which was approved, aims to ensure that Telford & Wrekin Council is fully reimbursed for housing cost payments across the borough which it is obliged to make on the Government’s behalf.
The Government has acknowledged that the current system for the funding of additional housing costs associated with supported accommodation is in urgent need of reform.
As it stands, councils are not fully subsidised for the housing benefit they pay to some types of accommodation, where often the rent can be significantly higher than the amount charged for mainstream accommodation.
Numerous Government reviews over the last 10 years have concluded that the whole scheme needs urgent overhaul, yet to date there has been no definitive action.
Cllr Paul Watling (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “Over the last decade we have seen the number of units of supported accommodation rise significantly and the average housing costs increase exponentially.
“For 2022/23, we forecast that these schemes will directly cost the council and the local taxpayer over £900,000.
“Therefore we call on the government to reconsider housing benefit payments which are linked to supported housing to ensure that Telford & Wrekin Council and other councils are fully reimbursed for the housing cost payments which we are obliged to make.”
Cllr Angela McClements seconded the motion.
Cllr McClements (Lab), Ward Member for Arleston, said: “The supported housing sector is only set to expand further in the future, and the financial impact on councils is untenable in the current economic climate so we strongly urge the Government to review this funding provision.”