Some 43,000 people across Wales have been helped to avoid homelessness as councils make the most of additional funds to keep people in in their homes – rather than returning it to Westminster.
Stats from Shelter Cymru show every Welsh council is on track to spend its full amount of Discretionary Housing payment (DHP) funding.
One council has already added in extra funds and others are promising to do so when need arises.
That adds up to around 43,000 people helped to avoid homelessness.
“Discretionary Housing Payments are an essential tool for local authorities, helping them to prevent homelessness and save money elsewhere, they have become even more important in recent years to help people cope with austerity and Universal Credit,” said Michelle Wales, Head of Campaigns at Shelter Cymru.
“At a time when nearly 26,000 people become homeless every year, including more than 2,800 children, it’s vital that we make the most of every penny to keep people in their homes,” she said.
In 2016 Shelter Cymru launched a campaign to highlight that some Welsh councils were at risk of underspending DHP with what was left going back to Westminster.
Last year nearly £79,000 was returned, compared to 2015/16 when a massive £289,000 was returned.
Seeing a waste of resources, Shelter Cymru launched its ‘Waste Not Want Not’ campaign.
The report references Torfaen Council as having already spent its whole allocation and topped it up by £87,000 – having helped 5,000 people so far.
“We are pleased that our campaigning has had a positive effect on councils’ use of DHPs and that less money is being returned to Westminster year on year,” said Williams.
“We’re hoping that this campaign is a good reminder to councils that there’s no excuse to be sending any money back at the end of March when so many people need help to avoid homelessness,” she said.
In 2018/19 Welsh councils received £9,341,850 as DHP from the DWP.
A Freedom of Information request carried out by Shelter Cymru found that the average award size for DHP is £421.
Now, ‘Waste Not Want Not’ is going wider, calling on the public to let friends and family know that they may be eligible to apply for DHP – with a ‘how to’ guide offered on the Shelter Cymru website.