Ten innovative projects will play a key role in restoring fairness to the Housing Benefit system, Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said today.
New Housing Benefit measures have been introduced to bring fairness back to the system and reduce the spiralling cost of the Housing Benefit bill.
The ten successful projects will get a share of a £4m fund to provide innovative support by working with voluntary organisations, providing free advice to landlords and tenants, creating a digital service to match landlords with tenants, and providing digital support to hundreds of local authorities. This funding is part of a total of £190m of extra financial help over the spending review period.
These measures will help put an end to rapid growth in private sector rents and lead to fewer people being put off work through fear of losing their benefits.
Lord Freud said:
It’s absolutely vital that we take urgent steps to manage Housing Benefit expenditure, which has been spiralling out of control for more than a decade.
We want families on benefits to make the same choices as working families about where they live - but there’s no reason for anyone to be made homeless because of these measures.
However, we are committed to making sure those who are making the transition are getting the right support and advice so that they can make confident decisions on their next steps. The winning projects who will be receiving a share of the £4m announced today will offer just that type of support.
One of the successful bidders is Cambridge City Council, on behalf of the Northgate Benefits Product Group, which will provide specialist software to up to 168 local authorities across the UK to help highlight people who may be affected.
Alison Cole, Benefits Manager at Cambridge City Council, said:
We are delighted that this bid has been successful. The software will allow each of the 168 authorities to determine local policy for tackling the changes and will provide vital support to customers through this transitional period.
The North London Housing Partnership is working with six local authorities and voluntary organisation Islington People’s Rights to provide advice hubs with support to tenants on rent negotiation.
Gerard Omasta-Milsom, Manager of Islington People’s Rights, said:
This is an exciting and innovative response to helping families who will be affected. In providing such practical support, the service should enable more households to remain or make any moves as painless as possible.
The 10 successful bidders are:
Cambridge City Council
Cambridge City Council on behalf of the Northgate Benefits Product Group will allow up to 168 local authorities across the UK highlight tenants who may be affected by the changes using special software.
North London Housing Partnership
Led by the London Borough of Haringey with voluntary organisation Islington People’s Rights, two hubs in North London will provide monetary advice, support with rent negotiations and practical assistance to help households across six local authority areas.
East London Housing Partnership
A new Social Lettings Agency will provide free services to landlords across eight local authorities in East London to avoid management costs and reduce rents, as well as support for tenants who may have to move.
London Borough of Lambeth
The London Borough of Lambeth, working in partnership with local voluntary groups, will launch a tenancy support service to target and support people who will be affected by the changes.
London Borough of Brent
The London Borough of Brent will be working with the voluntary sector to provide advice for Housing Benefit claimants.
Cardiff City Council
A website for all of Wales run by Cardiff City Council will provide information and support for people affected by the changes to housing benefit.
A new digital service which could help up to 50,000 households by matching landlords and tenants who want to rent at Local Housing Allowance rates across five local authority areas in West Yorkshire.
Bristol City Council
A partnership between Bristol City Council, Bristol Credit Union, three neighbouring local authorities, the West of England Partnership and the National Landlords Association will establish services for landlords and tenants.
Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
Tenants in 13 local authorities in the North West will be given help in negotiating rents as well as general money advice from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities. Advice and support for landlords will also be provided.
A one-stop shop will be established with local voluntary groups to target those affected in Edinburgh.
Notes to Editors:
Local authorities were invited in May to present bids for innovative schemes to assist with the transition during Housing Benefit reform.
Bids were judged on value for money, supporting the reforms and innovation, such as imaginative use of IT or creative ways of working.
Of the £190m extra funding over the spending period, £50million will be allocated to local authorities to implement the changes, £130million in Discretionary Housing Payments and £10million for transition arrangements in London.