DHP towards accommodation in a different area?

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  • #19541
    junderwo
    Participant

    I am dealing with a case where an addict has been offered a 3 week trial at a centre out of this area. He wants to keep his home here for the trial period but the centre he is going to is also HB funded. Reg 5(5) does not allow benefit on 2 homes in this situation.

    He has, therefore, enquired about a DHP to cover his housing costs at his new address. I would like to assist and after studying the discretionary financial assistance regs 2001 I cannot see a reason why I cannot.

    As this is a unique situation to me I would appreciate some assurance, or otherwise, that I would be within my powers to award a DHP.

    Cheers

    #63507
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Must admit it had never occurred to me that we might be able to pay a DHP to someone living in another authority’s area, but you are right, as far as I can see, there is nothing in the DFAR 2001 to stop you doing so. I suppose all you would need to be sure of is that he is entitled to HB at the temporary accommodation. But wouldn’t the other authority be prepared to pay a DHP themselves?

    #63508
    AndrewDonald
    Participant

    I think the post by junderwo refers to the issue I raised at http://hbinfo.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1311

    Per Reg 4 of the DFA Regs 2001 you would need to pay the DHP in respect of the address within your own authority and then work out away to have the money paid to the authority where the temporary accommodation is being given.

    If you are making periodic payments the payments can not exceed the rent liability at the property they occupy as their home, calculated in accordance with Reg(10) of the HB gen regs.

    Though you could pay a lump sum. Strange how the regs restrict how much you pay if paying periodically but not if paying by a lump sum ❓

    Hope this helps.

    #63509
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I am probably missing something fundamental here, but where is the opt-out for lump sums???

    #63510
    junderwo
    Participant

    Reg. 4 of the DFA regs limits the amount of a DHP that may be paid BUT only “(if calculated as a weekly sum).” There is nothing in the regs that stops you making lump sum payments as long as it appears the claimant requires some further financial assistance in order to meet housing costs.

    I’m not sure whether this was the intention of the regulations but it’s my interpretation.

    #63511
    Anonymous
    Guest

    i would tend to disagree with your interpretation, it says calculated not paid

    #63512
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I think junderwo is right, there is nothing in the DFA regs to prevent you paying a DHP as a lump sum, and I have certainly never had any come-back from auditors for doing this (we did it with great regularity at my previous authority).

    Reg 2 says a relevant authority “may make payments by way of…discretionary housing payments”, subject to various conditions in regs 4 & 5. None of those conditions place an obligation to pay on a weekly basis (or any kind of basis, really, other than what we consider appropriate), nor do they prevent you paying for a past period. If you are going to pay for a past period (which, again, I have often done myself), then it seems apparent that a lump sum is the way you are going to pay.

    What reg 4 is also saying is that the amount of a DHP is subject to restriction if calculated on a weekly basis. So if you calculated it on some purely random or arbitrary basis, there would be no restriction. See the commentary in CPAG, pg 963 of 2003/2004 edition.

    #63513
    Anonymous
    Guest

    i see no problem in relation to paying lump sums

    Reg 2(2)(b) ‘a relevant authority has a discretion as to the amount of the payments and the period for, or in respect of which, they are made.’

    The LA has a discretion about both the amount of the payment and the period to which the payment relates. As such the payment must relate to a period.

    This is subject to Reg 4 ‘The amount of a discretionary housing payment (if calculated as a weekly sum) shall not exceed…’

    This does not state that if the payment is PAID on a weekly basis then the amount shall not exceed…

    when read in conjunction, the LA have a discretion to make payments, the LA can decide to pay any amount they like in respect of whatever period they like, however the payment in relation to the period CALCULATED ON A WEEKLY BASIS, should not exceed the eligible amounts CALCULATED ON A WEEKLY BASIS

    the phrase [i:dfabe41d23](if calculated as a weekly sum) [/i:dfabe41d23]is there to ensure that the dhp is compared weekly against the eligible payment weekly

    using your interpretation the phrase ‘and the period for, or in respect of which, they are made’ is totally surplus to requirements as is the restriction set by Reg 4

    imo, the payments you are making may be ultra vires

    #63514
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Yes, I think I see what you are getting at…but. If the purpose of the phrase “if calculated as a weekly sum” is to ensure that the LA compares weekly entitlement to max possible weekly DHP in all cases, why is it phrased in such a strange way? The “if” is surely redundant, in that interpretation. Furthermore, if the purpose of that phrase is indeed to make sure that weekly entitlement is compared to max weekly DHP, I can’t help but think that it would have been phrased in a rather more obvious manner.

    I don’t think many authorities would want to pay a DHP over and above the top-up to maximum eligible rent (and I have never done so myself), so even if paid as a lump sum “in arrears” as it were, I can’t agree that any payments I have made are ultra vires. And as long as I have the backing of CPAG, I’ll rest easy on that!

    #63515
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Andy

    I agree that the wording of the Reg is strange and the main problem is the word “if”.

    However if the intention of the Regs was to allow Local Authority’s the powers to make whatever payments they like, whether described as ‘lump sum’ or otherwise, then why include Reg 4, possibly Reg 5 and the reference to periods in Reg 2(2)(b) at all.

    If you accept the interpretation others seem to be placing on the clause [i:552bc25e8e]if calculated as a weekly sum[/i:552bc25e8e], then surely this would mean that if you had a claimant with a monthly rental liability and you calculate DHP on a monthly basis, then there is no limit on what the LA can pay, yet there would be a limit for his next door neighbour whose liability is weekly.

    CPAG, itself has put a disclaimer in its book that the analysis represents the author’s view of the law. As such it is simply one person’s opinion, and we are all prone to errors (check out the analysis to HBR67(1)(a)).

    #63516
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I agree with dj. I have always read Reg 4 that way.

    It seems to me that the Reg is drafted like that because the DWP knows that the payment frequency will vary, and that some DHPs will be paid once only as a lump sum. In recognition of those varied payment approaches, the Reg is attempting (successfully in my view) to cap the amount by reference to a weekly equivalent. It is saying “however often you pay, make sure that you can justify your payment by reference to a weekly shortfall between HB and eligible housing costs over an indentifiable period”.

    #63517
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Yes, I can see the point both of you are making and agree that it is a valid interpretation…but I do think the ambiguity of the drafting of the regs allows for the other interpretation, too.

    As I said before, I have never paid (or contemplated paying) more than the difference between actual weekly entitlement and maximum eligible rent as a DHP, nor have I had any comeback from auditors for having paid lump-sum DHPs (and, if memory serves, I think I did once check the Adelphi’s views on paying DHPs as lump sums, which they did not find unacceptable).

    I am not (and was not) really arguing in favour of the view that you can pay any old amount you like on the grounds that it’s not a weekly payment, I was trying to support the view that a lump-sum payment is acceptable. Given that DHPs are intended to allow LAs to give additional assistance to the most vulnerbale people in their communities, I think it would take a spectacularly picky Blue Meanie to take an LA to task for paying a DHP as a lump sum rather than within regular payment cycles.

    #63518
    Anonymous
    Guest

    andy

    i see no problem with making the payment as a lump sum

    my only concern is that some people seem to be of the impression that by making a lump sum payment, they do not need to:
    a) detemine a period
    b) restrict the payment in accordance with Reg 4

    #63519
    Anonymous
    Guest

    dj – well, in respect to those two issues I think we are on common ground!

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