This report is the second published output from the independent evaluation of Direct Payment Demonstration Projects (DPDPs) in 6 areas in Great Britain demonstrating the payment of Housing Benefit (HB) directly to social rented sector tenants. This report was written in February 2013, approximately one year after the Project Areas were announced but only 6 months after the DPDPs went live (4 months in Scotland). Evidence and learning has accrued from the preparatory phase of the DPDPs but evidence regarding impacts and consequences of direct payments (for tenants, landlords and other stakeholders) remains tentative at this stage. The evaluation has not yet reached its most intensive stage and many tenants have been on direct payments for just a few months.
The report is concerned with highlighting the key learning since the DPDPs programme began early in 2012. In doing so, it explores the experiences of landlords and local authorities across the 6 DPDPs, highlighting the challenges they have faced. It also examines the experiences of tenants, mining qualitative data generated from more than 80 in-depth interviews with tenants in the DPDPs areas. The findings will help the Demonstration Project areas better understand their tenants, design the support for tenants both for setting up and managing direct payments and identify characteristics associated with high level of debt and rent arrears. They are also being fed into the design of Universal Credit, in particular payment exceptions and personal budgeting support.
An independent consortium comprising the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, the Institute of Social Policy at the University of Oxford, and Ipsos MORI (IM) was commissioned by DWP in January 2012 to monitor and evaluate the preparation and delivery of the DPDPs, assessing the effectiveness of the programme for tenants and landlords and learning lessons about effective implementation, to feed into relevant aspects of UC design and future housing policy and strategy.
Apart from the interviews that this report is based on, the evaluation includes analysis of landlords’ rent accounts and management costs, longitudinal qualitative studies with tenants and local stakeholders, a baseline and a follow-up survey of tenants.
The DPDPs are running from June 2012 until June 2013 testing how claimants can manage housing benefit monthly payments ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit from October 2013 and the appropriate level of safeguards needed to help secure landlord income streams if tenants fall behind on their rent. The emerging learning from the evaluation is available to local authorities and social housing providers via the Learning Network. This is a web-based community sponsored by DWP and DCLG working with Chartered Institute of Housing and Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation freely sharing learning with a wider group of social housing providers and stakeholders than those directly involved in the projects. The DWP is also working with councils and social housing landlords to ensure support can be provided to claimants as they move over to Universal Credit and in the long-term.