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Thread: Discretionary Housing payments

  1. #1
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    Discretionary Housing payments

    I have just been told that I am to be granted discretionary payments to cover my bedroom tax from 4th January this year until 10th of March when they want to review.
    This was after letters, bank statements etc being sent back and forth ever since the bedroom tax was introduced last April
    I have in the mean while paid most of it but fell behind during the six week summer holiday
    I believe this works out to about nine weeks payments and for this I have had to jump through so many hoops
    Between now and 10th of February they want me to send in receipts every time I spend more than twnty pounds in the co-op or tesco
    they also want me to reduce the ten pounds a week pocket money that I give my son
    they also want me to reduce the number of times that I use a cleaner on an ad hoc basis ( I hardly ever have her as I cannot afford to but I was advised to get one by social services when I requested help) they told me that cleaning was not catered for as people could get a cleaner, shopping could be done on the internet, they said I could have meals on wheels for seven pounds a day and someone to wash me if I needed
    When not flaring I manage to wash independently and when flaring I cannot even get off settee so am not bothered if I wash or not
    I was considering getting her to come regularly before this happened
    they also want me to reduce my weekly shopping bill
    I am always trying to reduce my weekly shopping bill but it seems to just go up!
    the phone call lasted about an hour and when it was finished I felt quite worn out and also a bit sort of embarrassed and also cross at the same time,having to more or less beg for the right to spend my benefits without listing every penny I shall not apply for discretionary payments again as I found it just too daunting for the sake of nine weeks payments

  2. #2
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    The law gives councils complete discretion over who they give DHPs to, how long they last, how much they are for, and what information the claimant must provide.


    I wonder if the council are prepared to put all those conditions into writing so that there's proof of them. I think there's a very strong case that they breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life. They also appear to infringe Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (at the same link as Article 8 - keep reading), the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions. Breaching either of these Articles would make the conditions illegal via section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.


    Councils have, unfortunately, been given far less money than they need to meet the needs of all affected by the 'bedroom tax', which is an invidious scheme by central Government to make councils look like the bad actors in this situation. It is understandable that councils want to try to maximise the effect of the meagre sums they can offer, but demanding scrutiny of your shopping bills seems to go far beyond the limited qualifications allowed in Article 8:
    There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of ... the economic well-being of the country, ..., for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    I've eliminated the qualifications that clearly don't apply. In truth, I can't see your shopping bills being of consequence to the economic well-being of the country, or the protection of health and morals.


    That just leaves "protection of the rights and freedoms of others", which could be construed as allowing discretionary housing payments to be targeted to those in most need. That being the case, the restriction must be "in accordance with the law" and test for proportionality must be satisfied for the interference in the ECHR right to be legal.

    I see nothing in the law giving the council the right to set limits on your expenditure (which I also believe amounts to a restriction on the peaceful enjoyment of your money, contrary to Article 1 Protocol 1).

    I also doubt the requirements for proportionality are satisfied. The legal test is quite complex, but one key element is that the restrictions must go no further than necessary. I don't see how the council intruding into your private and family life by ongoing scrutiny of your supermarket bills now that they've awarded you DHP, or by setting limits on the pocket money you pay your son, are necessary to target the available DHP money appropriately. An example household budget for one week should be sufficient to see how much money you have left over after essential outgoings.


    I am absolutely disgusted at the level of intrusion your council believes is acceptable. Unfortunately, it is difficult to frame a human rights argument neatly without legal assistance, but I've tried to give you an outline here.

  3. #3
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    yes, they have put it in writing but I have not seen it yet.
    I have agreed to the constraints except the pocket money, I told the lady that I was not prepared to tell my son he had to have a reduction as he already gets less than some of his peers, and that it is difficult for a person with autism to accept changes, and that as his DLA makes up quite a large percentage of our household income this seemed unfair.
    She told me that his DLA is for living expenses and that rent is a living expense
    I told her that DLA is meant for the extra expenses occurred by the person receiving it relating to their illness or disability
    She said that it was obvious I felt strongly about it and that she would leave his pocket money if I look at the other two suggestions.
    As I have said I will do that, then I will stick to it, but I felt like a scolded child by the time she had finished
    Although I do not intend to use the information you sent (I followed the link) to challenge them, I felt comforted by your post, so thank you for taking the time and hearing your view has softened the uncomfortable feeling that it gave me

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    Quote Originally Posted by deebee View Post
    Between now and 10th of February they want me to send in receipts every time I spend more than twnty pounds in the co-op or tesco
    they also want me to reduce the ten pounds a week pocket money that I give my son
    Certainly sounds very intrusive. Have never heard the like of this. But I'm not familiar with what things are asked to be poved or listed in making income bsed claims etc. But that certainly sounds pretty severe.

    I could be very wrong, but it looks to me reading this, that whoever has evaluated your claim, has some doubt when looking over your expenditure that you do regularly spend as much in each area as you've outlined.

    Perhaps doing as they ask and handing in your weekly receipts will put any possible doubt which has arisen in their mind to bed , and once sorted any future applications for DHP will be less stressful?.

    Central government and certainly tory policy is they feel there is a lot of waste and inefficiency within the running of local councils.And they're probably right in many ways. So they've put the financial squeeze on them in an attempt to improve the way they work. But until the financial penalty for failing to improve ineffficiency is felt in the pockets of those at the top in charge of running council operations, looks like the knock on effects will be felt by the public at large. I'd have slashed the top salaries, pensions and bonuses and leaving payments at the top, before starting on anything else if they couldn't meet their targets.

  5. #5
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seriouslyfedup View Post
    Certainly sounds very intrusive. Have never heard the like of this. But I'm not familiar with what things are asked to be poved or listed in making income bsed claims etc. But that certainly sounds pretty severe.

    I could be very wrong, but it looks to me reading this, that whoever has evaluated your claim, has some doubt when looking over your expenditure that you do regularly spend as much in each area as you've outlined.

    Perhaps doing as they ask and handing in your weekly receipts will put any possible doubt which has arisen in their mind to bed , and once sorted any future applications for DHP will be less stressful?.

    Central government and certainly tory policy is they feel there is a lot of waste and inefficiency within the running of local councils.And they're probably right in many ways. So they've put the financial squeeze on them in an attempt to improve the way they work. But until the financial penalty for failing to improve ineffficiency is felt in the pockets of those at the top in charge of running council operations, looks like the knock on effects will be felt by the public at large. I'd have slashed the top salaries, pensions and bonuses and leaving payments at the top, before starting on anything else if they couldn't meet their targets.
    Yes so would I seriouslyfedup

  6. #6
    Senior Member phaedra's Avatar
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    Come on now Deebee, you know all of us on DLA/IS/ESA etc. are secretly rolling in money! lol
    Last edited by phaedra; 29-01-14 at 08:46.

  7. #7
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    chuckle, if only!.....

  8. #8
    Senior Member phaedra's Avatar
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    Well I got paid today, it's the "big" pay day so IS for me, ESA for my son and DLA for both of us, by the time I stick what I need to in the bank, put some diesel in the car and do my online shopping we have 120 to live on for the next 2 weeks until it's "normal" pay day. Good job neither of us smoke, drink or have any sort of a social life!.

    Oh, and I need to find 699 in the next 2 months for the next car, luckily I have a very good friend who will loan me it and pay it back over the next year.

    Apart from that I also need a new mattress ............................. this one is getting all lumpy with all the money I've got stuffed in it
    Last edited by phaedra; 29-01-14 at 11:01.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deebee View Post
    Although I do not intend to use the information you sent (I followed the link) to challenge them, I felt comforted by your post, so thank you for taking the time and hearing your view has softened the uncomfortable feeling that it gave me
    Sometimes, knowing there is not only moral but legal justification for your feeling that something is not right is enough. As I think you've realised, this would be a potentially difficult complaint to take forward with the council, as you don't have legal help nor the legal training to present a proper legally based argument. It's unlikely to be worth the hassle of trying to get someone to take on the case considering the small amount of money involved.

    Would a virtual hug help?


    Your experience shows how wrong David Cameron's statements in the House of Commons that the "bedroom tax" does not affect disabled people are.

    This sort of thing also makes me so sad about the cuts to Legal Aid in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Though something very wrong has happened here, I think it would now be impossible to get Legal Aid to challenge the council's decision.

  10. #10
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    A virtual hug helps loads flymo, thank you, just came on to have a moan really and get it off my chest

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