Issue - meetings
Welfare Reform Update
That the Committee notes the report and proactive work undertaken by the Council, together with its partners, to mitigate the full impact of welfare reforms from falling upon vulnerable households.
The Team Manager - Advice & Homeless Service introduced the report giving the latest position with the reforms being introduced to the social security system and actions taken locally to provide help and support to affected residents in Flintshire.
He explained that many of the concerns around the impact of changes had been identified at an earlier stage and that various activities had been put in place to target and support those affected, particularly the more vulnerable households. He provided information on the effects of the Benefit Cap and Spare Room Subsidy (‘bedroom tax’) to date, as detailed in the report. On the latter, it was noted that an outcome was awaited on a proposed change in legislation which would reduce the number of people having a reduction in their Housing Benefit. Information was provided on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme where there was concern around the level of future funding from the Welsh Government (WG). On the Discretionary Assistance Fund, it was reported that funding would be available from WG to continue with the scheme from April 2015 onwards and that 66% of applications made in Flintshire had been successful.
During an update on Personal Independence Payments (PIP), it was reported that the DWP had committed to tackling lengthy delays experienced by some claimants and that a large-scale reassessment of Disability Living Allowance (which would be transferred to PIP) in the UK would impact on the number of claimants within Flintshire. The report set out measures being taken by the Council to help claimants to access the necessary advice and support.
The Team Manager - Advice & Homeless Service gave an update on the rollout of Universal Credit where concerns had previously been raised over the impact on households if national IT systems were to fail. He welcomed the continued phased rollout of Universal Credit and the introduction of a ‘Local Delivery Agreement’ with the Council and its partners, and went on to say that the model introduced in Flintshire on how individuals could access personal budgeting support was to be used nationwide. He spoke of the need for further discussion and progression on Universal Credit, with some improvements having already been introduced.
An update on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) gave the statistics to date and reported on involvement by the Council’s Housing Benefits section in a pan-Wales project to share Flintshire’s approach to DHP which was regarded as good practice. An overview was given of the various workstreams which were set out in the report.
The Neighbourhood Housing Manager provided a summary of the operational side, which was detailed in the appendix to the report. It was noted that eight out of ten tenants in Flintshire affected by the reforms were making payments on their rent accounts to try to address the shortfall and Table 2 showed the number of tenants impacted by the spare room subsidy who were in rent arrears (including some in that position prior to the reforms). Agreement had previously been reached by the Committee for ... view the full minutes text for item 30