§ Ms Buck
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of local authorities spent their total allocation for Discretionary Housing Payments in 2001–02; how many claimants applied for assistance; how many were awarded DHPs; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the scheme. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
Discretionary Housing Payments replaced exceptional hardship and exceptional circumstance payments from 2 July 2001. The scheme is funded in part by a central Government contribution to each local authority and any unspent contribution is returnable. Authorities may also spend more than the Government contribution, up to an overall limit.435W
406 local authorities provided expenditure figures for the period 2 July 2001 to 31 March 2002, of which 3.9 per cent. spent their total Government contribution or more. Figures are not collected centrally on the number of people who apply for or receive Discretionary Housing Payments. However, statistical returns from 404 authorities show that a total of 20,563 awards were made between 2 July 2001 and 31 March 20021.
We have commissioned the University of Birmingham to carry out a research project on how the Discretionary Housing Payment arrangements are operating. This will help us to determine a more effective mechanism of setting and distributing the Government's contribution to Discretionary Housing Payments for future years. The project is expected to report its findings later this year.1 Awards may be a single payment of a series of payments and more than one award may be made to an individual, for instance a person may receive separate awards to supplement Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
Note:Returns from local authorities may be subject to revision.
Source:Discretionary Housing Payment final claim form returns from local authorities to DWP, 2001–02.