“Z2K hopes that, even at this late stage, the chancellor will find some extra money to reverse this cut.”
A DWP spokesperson said a rise in local housing allowance brought in at the start of the pandemic means that there is less need for DHP funds.
“This government is working across the country to help people with their housing needs, and is spending over £2bn to tackle and prevent homelessness and rough sleeping over the next three years,” the spokesperson said.
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“The change in discretionary housing payment funding also reflects the rise in Local Housing Allowance brought in at the start of the pandemic, which we are maintaining, and government spending on housing support remains higher than pre-Covid-19 levels.”
But homelessness charities have warned not enough support is in place to prevent people from losing their homes as costs mount.
Last week Crisis warned almost 70 per cent of low-income private renters in England will be forced to go without food and heating at least one day per week to meet rising housing and living costs.
The charity said that freezing local housing allowance (LHA) at a time when DHPs are also falling means tens of thousands of people could fall into rent arrears and facing eviction.
“It’s deeply shameful that struggling renters will be forced to go without food and heating for several days in order to keep a roof over their head,” said Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive.
“Increasing housing benefit so it covers the true cost of rents would be the quickest and most effective way to keep people in their homes. We cannot idly stand by and watch all the progress made to tackle homelessness during the pandemic unravel and why we’re urging the UK government to reverse this cut before it’s too late.”
Centrepoint, too, has raised alarm about the issue ahead of the Spring Budget. The youth homelessness charity found that LHA only covers the full cost of the cheapest 25 per cent of private sector room rent as intended in one in eight local authority areas across England.
“If it made sense to ensure the local housing allowance keeps pace with the lowest third of rents two years ago – it surely does now with all the additional challenges those who need this support are facing,” said Balbir Chatrik, director of policy at Centrepoint.
“We cannot expect them to make up shortfalls in local housing allowance themselves. Local housing allowance rates must be urgently reviewed to ensure those already choosing between food and bills are not also facing homelessness too.”
In January, one million adults say they or someone in their household had to go a full day without food at some point.