Barrow residents urged to apply for housing support fund

RESIDENTS across Barrow are being urged to apply for financial help to pay their rent from the Discretionary Housing Payments Fund.

Barrow Borough Council has been granted £110,355 to help those who are struggling to meet their monthly accommodation costs across the area.

Awards from the Discretionary Housing Payments Fund, which comes from the Department for Work and Pensions every year, is by application only and available to anyone who meets the criteria.

Councillor Kevin Hamilton, Barrow Borough Council spokesperson for housing, explained he hoped more people would apply for help from the fund before April.

He said: “This fund is there to help those who find it difficult to meet their housing costs.

“Unfortunately, not everyone who is eligible for this money in the borough applies for it. We simply don’t get as many applications as we think we should.

“This means there are people in our area who continue to struggle even though help is available.

“These are the people we want to reach to make sure this money is put to the best use.”

Discretionary Housing Payments can be awarded to those in receipt of housing benefit or a housing element of Universal Credit.

It can be used to fund a rent shortfall, perhaps as a result of welfare reforms or, in some circumstances, a rent deposit or rent in advance for those who need to move home.

Barrow Borough Council was granted £131,950  last year based on an estimate of the need across the area.

However, fewer applications than anticipated came forward which meant some remaining money was taken back by the government.

Cllr Hamilton said: “A success for us would be that all of the money in the fund is granted to residents by the end of March.

“This money is very strictly ring fenced as support for housing costs which means any not allocated has to be sent back to the government.

“If we don’t make sure the money goes to those who need it, we might not get the same amount again.”

Cllr Hamilton added: “More than 500 people in the borough received financial help from this fund last year.

“We need to make sure everyone knows about it in 2020 so it can be used to make a difference to the lives of many more.”

Application forms for the Discretionary Housing Payments Fund are available from Revenues and Benefits Customer Services, adjacent to The Forum, Barrow Jobcentre Plus in Craven House, Michaelson Road, and Citizens Advice Barrow in Ramsden Hall, Abbey Road.