Reply To: Does DLA count?

Stephen Murray

I think that the case LB of Barnet HBRB, ex parte Turner may be helpful. A claimant was requesting an exceptional hardship payment under Reg 61(3) in respect of the rent that was being restricted by the LA due to over-accommodation. The LA in considering her request had taken into account the care component of her DLA award (disregarding the mobility component per circular HB/CTB 35/99 para 16).
The claimant argued that “the care component must be viewed as having been given by the state for expenditure on essentials. It is not intended for payment of rent. To attempt to redirect it towards payment of rent by relying on its availability to meet the shortfall of rent is to undrmine its purpose. to strike at the substance of the benefits system and to discriminate against the disabled”. Mr Justice Richards disagreed, “the care component is a fixed sum at the relevant rate and does not depend upon incurring specific additional costs, but also recognises that those requirements and costs will vary and that different people will have different priorities and different ways of addressing their problems. Thus the recipient is left with freedom of choice as to the use of the payment”.”I see nothing wrong with a recipient of the care component using part of it by way of payment of rent for larger and more suitable accommodation than he would otherwise be able to afford. But equally, if the resulting rent is higher than will be met by a normal payment of housing benefit, I see nothing wrong in principle with taking the care component into account when determining whether the person concerned can afford to live in the chosen property or will suffer hardship. That is not to say that the care component can always be said to be available for that purpose. Everthing depends on individual circumstances.”
Hope this helps.