I wanted to share some good news with you – Lord Freud and the Department for Work and Pensions have listened to your concerns and issued a clarification note to local authorities about the payment of housing benefit to night shelters. The DWP was initially reluctant to take this step, so having the support of more than 73,000 people for our campaign has made a real difference.
The Government’s note stresses that people staying in night shelters should still be eligible for housing benefit, so long as their circumstances meet housing benefit rules. Local authorities should now feel reassured ‘there has been no sudden change in the law’, so there is no reason to change housing benefit payments to night shelters. Sadly, one night shelter has already been forced to close and 11 other local authorities have withdrawn housing benefit payments, or insisted on changes to night shelter services. A number of other councils are still reviewing their position, so the Government’s action should help to protect night shelters in these areas.
There was a real danger that a Tribunal decision on an individual case could have devastating and unforeseen consequences for emergency homelessness provision throughout England and Wales. Although the Government has stopped short of issuing definitive guidance for local authorities, this is an important step.
You can read the Government’s note in full on the Emmaus UK website:
Thank you again for your support.