HARTLEPOOL Borough Council has been awarded £346,000 by central government to support housing benefit claimants - an increase of £29,000 on the year before.
But council officials say it is still “nowhere near enough” to help the authority deal with the “substantial impact” cuts in housing benefit have had locally.
In Hartlepool alone, the controversial ‘Bedroom Tax’ has affected around 1,500 households and there has been a loss of housing benefit of £1.1m per year.
Whitehall has provided councils in the North East with a total of £6.5m to support vulnerable claimants who might need extra support at the launch of a new national advertising campaign.
The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocations for councils show councils in the North East will receive an extra £1.1m in the next financial year. This follows £5.4m funding this year.
But a council spokesman said: “Whilst we acknowledge this small amount of additional funding, the reality is that it is nowhere near enough to enable the council to deal with the substantial impact which the Government’s cuts in Housing Benefit are having on local people – particularly those affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax.’
“In Hartlepool alone, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ has affected about 1,500 households and there has been a loss of Housing Benefit totalling £1.1m per year.”
As well as the funding, an advertising campaign will also highlight the help and support available to claimants to find work, apply for extra help or move home.
The reforms are part of long-term plans to deliver a “strong economy that delivers for people who want to work hard and play by the rules”, ministers say.
Esther McVey, Work and Pensions Minister, said: “Capping benefits is returning fairness to the welfare system and reform of the spare room subsidy is absolutely necessary to make a better use of our social housing when over 300,000 are living in overcrowded homes in Britain and around 1.7m are on social housing waiting lists in England alone.
“We are ensuring all working age tenants are treated equally - as claimants receiving housing benefit in private sector already receive support for the number of bedrooms they need and not for spare rooms.”