More cash to ease housing benefits cut

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South Yorkshire councils have been handed an emergency cash pot worth £370,000 to help families at risk of being forced out of their homes by looming housing benefit cuts.

The government has pumped an extra £10m into a so called “transitional fund” to help local authorities cope with the upheaval caused by the benefit cut backs being made this April.

Sheffield Council will this year receive £121,945 to help protect the most vulnerable residents who face being unable to pay their rent after the cuts.

Rotherham will receive £60,313, Barnsley £68,312 and Doncaster £119,583.

The changes which are set to have the biggest impact in South Yorkshire include the 40 per cent cut in local housing allowance -the housing benefit paid to those in private rental accommodation - and the removal of a £15 incentive paid to families who seek cheaper accommodation.

The Local Housing Allowance is currently about 50 per cent of the local rental market rate but it will be cut in April to a third of market rates.

Families who face having to fund the shortfall hope landlords will agree to cut their rent or find cheaper accommodation.

It has previously been revealed how almost 19,000 families in South Yorkshire are set to be hundreds of pounds worse off under the government reforms.

A total of 5,210 claimants will lose out in Sheffield alone.

An estimated 1,670 housing benefit claimants who live in two bedroom properties in the city will be on average £624 a year worse off, while 1,590 claimants living in one bedroom flats will be £416 out of pocket.

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: “It’s wrong for anyone to suggest that many people will become homeless because of our housing reforms – the Discretionary Housing Payments are there to provide a safety net for those who need it.

“This year’s fund has already received an extra £10 million in funding and we will triple Discretionary Housing Payments over the next three years to £60m.”

The government has set aside £130m for the transitional fund over four years.