Proposed Brent Discretionary Housing Payment Scheme 2013/14

Brent published this report back in December – it outlines the categories of household which will be eligible for ‘discretionary payments’ in either the short or long term to help them sustain their housing in the face of benefits cuts and breaks down how Brent thinks it will spend the funds.

The report suggests that under the proposed DHP scheme, there will be six main award categories, each of which branch out further to cover more specific subcategories. The main categories you might be able to apply under are:

  • Supporting Vulnerable and Protected Groups (‘to enable people to maintain a tenancy that (‘Is unaffordable… and cannot be sustained long-term without assistance but where an individual falls into a protected or vulnerable group…’)
  • Short-term Respite (‘to alleviate pressure from those in short-term difficulty, providing them with assistance and thus allowing them breathing space to address the issue/s in question’)
  • Supporting Work (‘to support and incentivise people into finding and sustaining employment’)
  • Supporting Education (‘to support those claimants, partners or their children who are presently undertaking education where it is considered reasonable to give short term help to sustain their current tenancy’)
  • Securing New Sustainable Tenancies ‘(to provide one-off awards to enable people to secure new sustainable tenancies either in or out of Brent’)
  • New Start (‘to offer large families, whose tenancy in Brent cannot be sustained in the long term due to family size and circumstance, the funds to keep their family together and make a new start in a more affordable area’)

In the report Brent council also say that they will publicise the discretionary payments more widely, and contact those households that they think are likely to need support as the cuts come in. They say ‘where it is known that customers will be significantly affected by Welfare Reform, we shall contact them to discuss their options and this may include suggesting that help may be available through DHPs.’

There are some criteria that have to be fulfilled for households to be eligible for discretionary payments. The report suggests that ‘in order to be eligible to receive a One-Off Discretionary Housing Payment Award, an individual:

  • Must in be in receipt of one of the following benefits:
    • i. Housing Benefit (received from LBB); or
    • ii. Universal Credit (and liable for rent in LBB);

And

  • Must not have been found guilty in a UK court of law for making a fraudulent application for a Brent Community Assistance Payment or Council Tax Support / Housing Benefit / Council Tax Benefit within the past twelve months (or accepted an administrative penalty as an alternative to prosecution)

And

  • Must be willing to comply with any reasonable conditions (NB. these aren’t defined) concerning the payment award

And

  • Must not have received a Discretionary Housing Payment Award under sections 6.2 or 7.1 (of the qualifying criteria) within the past 12 months.

In order to be eligible to receive a Regular Discretionary Housing Payment Award, an individual must:

  • meet the criteria outlined in 1.1;

And

  • not have savings that could be used to meet the shortfall; (NB. The council were considering if some savings should be disregarded)

And

  • not have sufficient disposable income to meet the shortfall (NB. The council say this will be defined by the income/expenses form, but it is yet to be seen what will be considered ‘allowable expenses‘)

Read the report for more details…

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