Monday, 23 August 2010

And the Discretionary Housing Payments and Freedom of Information Saga Goes On...(Part 1)

A story of two parts here. Firstly, you may wish to take a look back to the last installment in the tale for a catch up.

Back? Ok, well first we'll take a look at the table DHP spending which I've updated from the latest FoIA response I got on the subject -

First the good news. For the first time in the history of the DHP scheme NCC has actually spent some of its own money on DHP payments. The bad news of course is that part of the reason for this is the year on year reduction in government grant and subsequent overall spending limit caused by relentless underspend in the past (a feature of the DHP scheme is that if you don't spend your allocation your grant is reduced the next year). Another problem of course is that they've finally dipped in their own pockets just as those pockets have been significantly reduced in size and we have the unknown of a Tory government.

The second piece of good news is that in 2009/10 there was a major increase in applicants accompanied by, you guessed it, a big drop in the success rate. Still, that resulted in an extra £15k or so going into tenants' pockets so something has gone right. Obviously I'd like to flatter myself that I might have played a small part in causing that to happen. I bloody hope so, I've written enough about it.

Oh by the way, the FoIA response claimed that the various working groups promised were internal so weren't minuted. That's bollocks, I'm not believing that for a second.

Part 2 of this ongoing saga, which is more a tale of the ineptness of the Freedom of Information machinary than DHPs per se, will probably arrive some time tomorrow. But don't bank on it.

Addendum - Back in September 2006 the Task and Finish Panel on Debt Collection were given a report on DHPs. According to the minutes they asked for a further report on the very high refusal rates for DHPs.

The Panel's final report included the following recommendation -

"The panel recommends that the government grant for Discretionary Housing Payments is fully utilised for the benefit of citizens by adopting a more rigorous approach to its allocation and management, to include:

• undertaking benchmarking with other authorities to establish more consistent decision making;

• improving quality assurance processes for consistent and fair decision making;

• undertaking joint working with NCH and with advice providers in the city to maximise access to DHPs."

At the time of the September 2006 meeting (i.e. part way through the year) the panel was asking why 59% of applications were refused. By the end of that year the refusal rate had climbed to nearly 68%. It did drop for the next two years but increased again in 2010.

1 comment:

jeffery said...

Wow! Thanks for the heads up. I am working on a thesis and this is really helpful in my research. I have friends who need the same information and I told them to read your blog too. Thanks.