Housing benefit grant for Redbridge’s vulnerable just a ‘stop gap’

A GRANT which will help the most vulnerable people in Redbridge cope with radical changes to housing benefits has been branded a “stop-gap”.

Redbridge Council has �180,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help phase in reforms which will see benefits capped from April, affecting 5,000 people.

Labour Cllr Filly Maravala, chairman of the council’s housing scrutiny committee, has called the grant a “temporary measure” which will ultimately leave vulnerable people without any help.

He said: “It’s a slight of hand because it’s just a one-year stop gap. What happens after that? Their needs don’t go away.”

The council said the DWP has set aside �30million nationally through the discretionary housing payment fund for 2012/13, but how it will be allocated is undecided. It is also not known if the funding will continue.

A council spokesman said: “The money will be used to assist residents suffering financial hardship, as well those suffering hardship as a result of the reforms.

“Residents will be required to claim the additional help and decisions on whether to award payments are made on a case by case basis.

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“It is too early to tell whether this will be an adequate amount of money as the majority of residents will not start to be affected until January 2012.”

A further �50million will be allocated over the next four years, for housing advice, helping authorities work with landlords and tenants on renegotiating rents, and moving costs.