Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Housing costs  →  Thread

DHP becoming too difficult to claim?  Excessive information/sign up to scheme requirements

 

EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

Hello comrades,

Your views please.

I am assisting a client who is a full time carer and appointee to her disabled son (higher rates) and who is trying to find work to fit around this (has to be v flexible).  She is on UC.  Bedroom tax has been applied.  Her rent is a social rent luckily (129.00 per week).

UC has caused considerable debt due to advance payments and arrears.

I referred the person to step change for the debt and maximized all her benefits before making the application for DHP.

Croydon council are asking for the following in order for her DHP to be considered, and this has only been asked for after we have completed a lengthy online application (when it was working):-

- Full budgeting plan using their online software: if getting debt help elsewhere, you are required to provide ‘confirmation of the support that they are providing so we can ensure you are getting all the help and support needed to be able to manage your finances..’

- Agreement to sign up to their ‘long term solution’ scheme to find work

- 3 months bank statements that show all transactions

- ‘Finding an affordable home’ scheme - ’ please confirm that you will provide proof of affordable property searches, 10 per month to support your ongoing DHP each listed with the following - name + contact details of landlord or agency, location of property, size of property, price of property…

- Proof of income

- Proof of rent arrears: must be a most recent rent statement, name of landlord, etc…

I think the information requirements are excessive, especially in my clients case, however Croydon are still insisting on the majority of the information.  The bank statements particularly trouble me - is this becoming standard in DHP applications?  I haven’t come across it before with DHP and have successfully challenged with HB/Tax credits.  The fact they want to see each transaction particularly - this is ‘sensitive’ data under the DPA and should only be required when absolutely necessary.  Anyone would be unhappy with their bank statements being looked at and judgments being made on their spending - why should DHP applicants be denied confidentiality just because they have no other choice?  regardless, a bank statement isn’t a reliable record of income and expenditure - the data can be misleading.  For instance, she receives DLA on behalf of her son but the statement doesn’t say ‘DLA for son.’ 

I understand that LAs are under financial pressure however I would like to know a) whether they require all this information/commitment to schemes, b) bank statement transactions and c) whether any other LAs are doing this.

For someone who is caring full time and doing all they can to find work, I am really not sure this is a good use of LA resources either (e.g. looking for another home?  a cheaper private rent that 129.00 pw in Croydon for 2 people, really?) but they are not discriminating in her case even though I have explained her situation.

Is it just me or is this unreasonable? 

      [ Edited: 1 Feb 2018 at 04:21 pm by EKS_COTTON ]
ClairemHodgson
forum member

Solicitor, SC Law, Harrow

Send message

Total Posts: 942

Joined: 13 April 2016

one point struck m e about the bank statements (apart from the principle of the thing, on which i’m with you).

you imply that the son’s DLA is going into HER account, but also imply (you say she is his appointee) that he’s an adult

therefore you have money that isn’t hers going into her account.

it should, surely, go into his account

going into hers makes it look as though she has more money than she does, and thus gives croydon ammunition that they otherwise would not have (i.e., as to her means).


and also, presumably, may create other problems for any means tested benefits…..

clearly if son isn’t yet an adult, not an issue - but the implication of the way you phrased the question led me to wonder….

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

I will double check - not sure whether he is 19 or 20.  He is in a special education/training as he has learning difficulties.

I didn’t realize that appointees for adults cannot receive income on their behalf? I suppose it makes sense to stop financial abuse but what in the case of people with severe learning difficulties (i.e. unable to deal with finances)?

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

Just had a look at the appointee form - appears that they can receive payments on behalf of someone.

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

I have just spoken to another client living in Brighton who has reported very similar requirements in order to get DHP, e.g.

- Budgeting and debt plan
- Agreement to sign up to work scheme
- 3 months bank statements that show all transactions
- Proof of income
- Proof of rent arrears: must be a most recent rent statement, name of landlord, etc…

Also

- ‘Finding an affordable home’ scheme - in this case, she needs to show that she has a plan to move to a certain property by a specific date and only then will the DHP provide support until such time as she moves.

     
SarahJBatty
forum member

Money Adviser, Thirteen, Middlesbrough

Send message

Total Posts: 345

Joined: 12 July 2012

Hi EKS
See the DWP national guidance to councils on Discretionary Housing Payments.  It suggests that councils should not set up schemes where the requirements are too onerous for claimants.  It also suggests that they should consider longer term awards in cases where a claimants circumstances are unlikely to change and there is disability. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/discretionary-housing-payments-guidance-manual

The pressure on council DHP ‘pots’ is understandable ... but the Govt considers DHP to be a part of the benefit system that is sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities that it is able to mitigate what would otherwise be discrimination.  This is what they argued in the Supreme Court in the bedroom tax cases.

     
ClairemHodgson
forum member

Solicitor, SC Law, Harrow

Send message

Total Posts: 942

Joined: 13 April 2016

EKS_COTTON - 01 February 2018 12:00 PM

Just had a look at the appointee form - appears that they can receive payments on behalf of someone.

i wasn’t saying they couldn’t.

i was saying that if she is, she has money i her account that looks like hers when it isn’t, and if the council are trying to run a means argument (why else ask for bank statements) her bank statements present an incorrect picture.

but in any event, in principal it’s surely better for one person’s finances to be kept separate from another’s! 

and thinking forwards - if his money is going into her account, and she gets run over by a bus - what then?  he can’t access it until probate done ( a pain) and neither can anyone else, plus all the grief of having to set up new accounts in his name ... etc.

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

SarahJ and Clairem - many thanks.

     
andyrichards
forum member

(i) City Services ii)Brighton and Hove City Council

Send message

Total Posts: 169

Joined: 3 January 2013

Gotta say….working for Brighton and Hove City Council, I don’t recognise most of those allegations about the process of applying for a DHP here.  For starters, we ask for proof of the last 30 DAYS bank transactions.  Been the case for years; it’s on our forms and the website.

Proof of income?  Maybe but in many cases we’ll already have it or can get it from DWP.

Yes we ask claimants to show their monthly expenditure in as much detail as they can.  I’m sure that’s pretty standard and, again, has been for years.

     
andyrichards
forum member

(i) City Services ii)Brighton and Hove City Council

Send message

Total Posts: 169

Joined: 3 January 2013

Oh…..and there’s no “work scheme” which people have to sign up to.

People may be advised to sign up for our Homemove scheme, if the DHP has been awarded for a shortfall between rent and HB, in order to try and find cheaper accommodation.  It is not a pre-condition - it’s advised in the letter notifying the person of the outcome of their application.

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

Many thanks andyrichards.  I will request the paperwork from the claimant although I don’t believe they have received any yet.  According to the claimant, they were advised at an appointment that DHP will not be awarded unless they commit to looking for another place to live. 

I will look into it more.

     
EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 148

Joined: 10 March 2014

Just to follow up on this one:-

My client in Brighton has passed me a copy of a Brighton LA personal housing plan which she says she was told that she must sign in order to get DHP.  It has a section called ‘steps the applicant is required to take’ and under this she has to ‘engage with direct lets to view properties’ and keep the housing officer updated.

The form asks ‘does the applicant agree with the assessment? If yes please sign and date below’.

Effectively the client said she had no choice but to sign.  She has a lot on her plate as a single working mother and the PHP puts additional burdens on her.  She has lives in the area some time and already moved from another private rent (was damp) which was £5 per month more expensive than the one she lives in now, which is an average market rent for the area.

Given the circumstances of her case, it would appear the requirements are too onerous, so I will explain the guidance to her if she wants to pursue a complaint.

      [ Edited: 13 Mar 2018 at 11:11 am by EKS_COTTON ]
tbidmead
forum member

WRAMAS, Bristol City Council

Send message

Total Posts: 221

Joined: 7 January 2013

EKS_COTTON - 13 March 2018 11:05 AM

Just to follow up on this one:-

My client in Brighton has passed me a copy of a Brighton LA personal housing plan which she says she was told that she must sign in order to get DHP.  It has a section called ‘steps the applicant is required to take’ and under this she has to ‘engage with direct lets to view properties’ and keep the housing officer updated.

The form asks ‘does the applicant agree with the assessment? If yes please sign and date below’.

Effectively the client said she had no choice but to sign.  She has a lot on her plate as a single working mother and the PHP puts additional burdens on her.  She has lives in the area some time and already moved from another private rent (was damp) which was £5 per month more expensive than the one she lives in now, which is an average market rent for the area.

Given the circumstances of her case, it would appear the requirements are too onerous, so I will explain the guidance to her if she wants to pursue a complaint.

Just to note that the personal housing plan sounds like it has been prepared by a housing adviser in the LA following a homelessness application. (PHPs are being introduced by the homelessness reduction act which commences in a couple of weeks). So probably a separate decision from the DHP (though perhaps linked?) & there will be rights of review around parts of the homelessness decision.