Council hits back over housing fund underspend

By Chris Betteley in Politics

CEREDIGION council has hit back at criticism that a “failure of organisation” led to Westminster money to provide help with housing costs for the most vulnerable being left unspent.

Figures from Shelter Cymru last week revealed that Ceredigion was one five Welsh councils responsible for 75 per cent of the underspend of the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Fund, designed to relieve housing costs for the worst off.

The Department for Work and Pensions allocation for DHP to Ceredigion County Council in 2016/17 was £246,478.

At the end of the financial year the council had spent £235,452, had payments of £1,624 committed, leaving £9,402 unused.

The council was criticised by the Ceredigion Labour Party for failing to fully use the cash, but the authority said it had “consistently spent its full allocation” and often topped up the fund with its own cash to help the most vulnerable.

Dinah Mulholland of the Ceredigion Labour Party said: “I have been made aware of people in Ceredigion on the verge of homelessness who have not been told about this fund, and others whose app­lications for it have been turned down.

“They must be feeling outraged today that money that could have helped them has been returned to Whitehall."

Cllr Dafydd Edwards, Ceredigion council Cabinet member for finance and housing, said that the authority is “proud” of the “proactive work” undertaken by its housing teams to “minimise homelessness”.

“Our proactive work has been a success in reducing homelessness which is evidenced by the reduction in applications in DHP over a two-year period,” he said.

See this week’s south editions for the full story, in shops and online on Wednesday

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