Research and Statistics

RR 822 Direct Payments Demonstration Projects: Findings from a baseline survey of tenants in five project areas in England and Wales

This report is the first published output from the independent evaluation of Direct Payment Demonstration Projects (DPDPs) in six areas in Great Britain demonstrating the payment of Housing Benefit (HB) directly to social rented sector tenants: The research took place in May-June 2012 and involved face to face survey of 1639 tenants in the five project areas: 'Oxford', 'Southwark', 'Shropshire', 'Torfaen' and 'Wakefield.' The report does not include data from the sixth project area, Edinburgh, as implementation and research activity there started later than the other areas.

The survey aims to provide a baseline position prior to the Demonstration Projects going 'live', with regard to issues such as: tenants' awareness of, and attitudes towards direct payments; their financial history, circumstances and capability and their perception about the likely impact of direct payment of HB to them. The findings will help the demonstration project areas better understand their tenants, design the support for tenants both for setting up and managing direct payments and identify characteristics associated with high level of debt and rent arrears and are also being fed into the design of Universal Credit for phase 1, in particular payment exceptions and personal budgeting support.

An independent consortium comprising the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, the Institute of Social Policy at the University of Oxford, and Ipsos MORI (IM) was commissioned by DWP in January 2012 to monitor and evaluate the preparation and delivery of the DPDPs, assessing the effectiveness of the programme for tenants and landlords and learning lessons about effective implementation, to feed into relevant aspects of UC design and future housing policy and strategy.

Apart from the baseline survey that this report is based on, the evaluation includes analysis of landlords' rent accounts and management costs, longitudinal qualitative studies with tenants and local stakeholders, and a follow-up survey of tenants.

The DPDPs are running from June 2012 until June 2013 testing how claimants can manage housing benefit monthly payments ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit from October 2013 and the appropriate level of safeguards needed to help secure landlord income streams if tenants fall behind on their rent.

The emerging learning from the evaluation is available to local authorities and social housing providers via the Learning Network. This is a web based community sponsored by DWP and DCLG working with Chartered Institute of Housing and Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation freely sharing learning with a wider group of social housing providers and stakeholders than those directly involved in the projects. The DWP is also working with councils and social housing landlords to ensure support can be provided to claimants as they move over to Universal Credit and in the long-term.

December 2012 128 pages 297x210mm

ISBN ISBN 978-1-909532-02-1