A city council exceeded its budget for housing support payments in the last year.

Brighton and Hove City Council was given £645,514 by the Government which it can hand out to residents to cover shortfalls in Universal Credit or housing benefits.

But the city council actually spent £723,000 in the year to March, an overspend of 12 per cent, as housing benefits remain frozen for the third year.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said the freezing of housing benefits means "desperate families are struggling to balance the books in the overpriced and insecure private rented sector".

"If the Government really wants to tackle the housing emergency, the Chancellor must urgently unfreeze housing benefits to help families pay their rent,” she said.

Ms Neate said the city council’s discretionary housing payments are needed to bridge the gap between housing benefit and rent but added they are "only a sticking-plaster solution".

"The only long-term solution to the housing emergency is for the Government to invest in a new generation of genuinely affordable social homes, with rents tied to local incomes,” she said.

Across England and Wales, local authorities spent an added 15 per cent of their combined allocation, with 4 per cent of councils overspending their budget by more than 5 per cent.

Just 11 per cent of authorities spent less than 95 per cent of their budget.

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A government spokesman said nearly £1.6 billion in funding has been given to local authorities since 2011, "providing a safety net for people struggling with rent or housing costs".

He said: "We are set to spend over £30 billion on housing support this year on top of the significant cost-of-living help worth around £3,300 per household.

"It is for councils to decide how to allocate funding and manage their budgets, and they can top up government funding up to two and a half times using their own funds."

In 2021 to 2022, Brighton and Hove City Council spent an extra 12 per cent on top of its initial discretionary housing payment budget.

The city council was contacted for comment.