ARCH members West
Lancashire District Council estimate that one in six of their
tenants affected by the bedroom tax have had adaptations carried
out to their homes to help them cope with a disability.
If these 193 tenants moved to smaller accommodation, the council
would need to spend over £700,000 adapting their new homes to meet
their special requirements, compared with an annual saving in HB of
The irony here, of course, is that the benefit savings accrue to
central government, while the cost of providing new adaptations
impacts on the council.
Looking at the overall impact on the public purse, it makes little
sense to restrict benefit and force tenants to move when doing so
will trigger additional expenditure that will not be recouped for
It makes even less sense if the affected tenants will reach
retirement age - and escape the benefit restrictions - before the
six years is up. This, one might think, is one of the scenarios
Discretionary Housing Payments were intended to help avoid.
But it is by no means clear that DHP cash limits for next year
will be enough to provide for the scale of this problem.
West Lancs have written to the Housing
Minister pointing out that next year's DHP allowance will need
to show a dramatic increase on the £53,200 allocated for this year
for the council to have any hope of helping this group of tenants,
not to mention all the other potential claims for DHP.
West Lancs are unlikely to be alone. Other councils which are
well-advanced in identifying tenants affected by the welfare reform
changes will also be comparing the cost of moving under-occupying
tenants whose new homes will require expensive adaptations with the
alternative of helping them to stay where they are.
ARCH would like to hear from councils which have done the sums and
can evidence the financial dilemma they face. Councils may also
want to follow West Lancashire's example and put their argument
direct to Ministers.