CIVIC chiefs have admitted that a scheme to help people struggling with housing costs is 'very limited'.

Discretionary housing payments (DHP) are paid out to people on housing benefit or council tax benefit who are struggling to pay their rent.

Labour city councillor, Janet Berry, questioned the effectiveness of the scheme at a meeting on January 9.

She said: “How effective are DHPs in providing financial assistance to those experiencing particular difficulties or hardship in the Winchester district, and is the situation likely to change at after April 2013?”

Funds are given to the council from the government to distribute. In the year 2011/12, the council paid out just over half of the £20,000 available, prompting concerns that those eligible may not always be aware that help is available.

City finance boss, Stephen Godfrey, said: “It's a very good but very limited scheme. However I can assure councillor Berry that this council follows best practice in notifying tenants of the availability of this money.”

He also said that whilst the city has not always paid out all available funds, this was likely to change in the next year following the coalition's welfare reforms.