Members of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will discuss a new updated Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) policy to ensure that help is targeted effectively.
The scheme, which is an emergency fund to help reduce hardship whilst people find alternative solutions to housing issues, was launched by the Government in 2001 and is administered locally by Calderdale Council for residents of the borough. The fund gives people financial support, in addition to any welfare benefits which they receive, when the Council considers that help with housing costs is required.
The welfare reform changes have led to an increase in the number of applications for discretionary housing payments. With the introduction of Universal Credit, which is being rolled out in Calderdale from April 2015, it’s important that Calderdale’s DHP policy supports full take up of available Government funding to meet the needs of local people.
At the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 2 February, Members will discuss a number of revisions to the existing policy to support those in need and to help people adapt to welfare reform. Some of the proposed changes include:
- The introduction of a detailed income and expenditure assessment to more accurately establish the level of support needed.
- Disregarding savings up to £500 from the assessment, to ensure that residents still have an emergency fund to fall back on in unforeseen circumstances.
- The provision of continued support to help residents with their finances going forward, and signpost support such as debt counselling.
- Allowing lump sum payments to alleviate debt where there are rent arrears due to welfare reform.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Marcus Thompson, said:
“The discretionary housing payment scheme is vital to support those most in need. I have been concerned that we have not done enough to make the funding we have available for the most disadvantaged, especially families, and I believe this policy will address this.
“The changes mean that there is likely to be an increase in the number of people claiming DHP, but I feel the revised scheme would meet the needs of local people whilst recognising our funding constraints.”