Thank you for contacting me about tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.
A single person without a roof over their head is one too many, and it is important that the most vulnerable people are helped to get their lives back on track. The response at the beginning of the pandemic showed just how much can be achieved when we work together to help those around us. It was good to see that almost 15,000 rough sleepers and vulnerable people were offered safe accommodation at the start of the pandemic.
I share your concerns about what lies ahead for our families, communities and businesses in the coming months. People need support, certainty and reassurance during this critical time, and I know my ministerial colleagues across government are working tirelessly to achieve this.
In relation to the benefit cap, although temporary changes have been introduced to support people at this difficult time, it is not the intention to fundamentally change the process, principles or application of the benefit system. The national cap is currently set at £20,000, rising to £23,000 in London. However, if claimants need extra support to meet rental costs they can approach their Local Authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Since 2011, over £1 billion has been invested in DHP funding and I am especially glad an additional £40 million of DHP funding for England and Wales has been allocated for this year.
Exemptions from the cap are in place which protect families who experience a sudden change in their circumstances. As you may know, in the event someone loses their job, they may qualify for a grace period from the cap for 39 weeks. Exemptions also apply for the most vulnerable claimants who are entitled to disability benefits and carer benefits.
Nonetheless, I will ensure your comments and recommendations are passed onto my colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions for consideration.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP