Council’s cautious housing grant payments questioned

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The amount of discretionary housing payments made by Scottish Borders Council - largely to combat the impact of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ - has come under question.

South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish called for an update from the council after discovering that up to the end of December, they had paid out £297,776 - just over a quarter of the funding it is able to distribute in 2013/14.

A spokesperson from Scottish Borders Council said: “The council received Discretionary Housing Payment funding for 2013/14 of £1.119m. The current spend is £309,300 with £43,536 committed to the end of March.

“This is expected to increase although even if everyone affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy could demonstrate that they needed help, and it was awarded, it would still only represent 47% of the current fund.

“There are 862 people in the Borders currently affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy with the total annual financial impact of this estimated at £530,000.

“Every tenant anticipated to have been affected has been contacted on at least three occasions during the course of 2013/14. To date, 447 households have applied and been awarded DHP to cover any shortfall in rent, with 90% of applications successful.”

For advice about applying for DHP phone 0300 100 1800,, or the CAB.