Does DLA count?

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  • #19529
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Sorry, a bit pushed for time on this one (its probably clear in the guidance somewhere). Can LA’s consider DLA as available income for rent shortfall when considering an award of DHP?

    I’m guessing the answer is yes you can because its all discretion based.

    If you can I would be interested to know LA policies with regard to this as DLA is ignored for other HB/CTB purposes.

    Cheers!

    #19
    fionacowan
    Participant

    Hi – I tend to look at DLA in the light of what expenses are claimed when assessing dhp’s. If it’s mobility I use it to offset travel expenses, if care I look at extra food expenses/extra clothing.

    DHP is discretionary but some claimants try to win both ways with extra expenses caused by disability not being offset by dla.

    #20
    Bobkirkpatrick
    Participant

    I would have thought some regard should be had as to why the DHP is being requested. If it’s to make up a shortfall because of a rent restriction, or Council Tax Benefit restriction, or the effect of a non-dep. deduction, then I would say that the award of DLA is wholly irrelevant – it should not come into the equation at all. Its purpose is not to help the claimant pay their rent or Council Tax – that is the purpose of HB and a DHP.

    #21
    Stephen Murray
    Participant

    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.

    #22
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Thanks for your responses, can definately see both sides to this one, still keep any more responses going on policies adopted – very interesting! 🙂

    #23
    Bobkirkpatrick
    Participant

    Was it R on the application of Turner v Brent HBRB or Barnet HBRB? I think it was Brent.

    In any case, this related to the old “exceptional hardship” provisions, where the test was much harder to satisfy. It is now sufficient simply for a claimant to show that they need “further financial assistance (in addition to the benefit or benefits to which they are entitled) in order to meet housing costs.” (The Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations – Reg. 2).

    Note the inclusion of the phrase “in addition to the benefit or benefits to which they are entitled”. In my view if a claimant is getting DLA then the whole award of that benefit should normally be ignored – as a DHP would be “in addition” to that benefit, which, after all, has a specific purpose. As I said, though, it will all depend on the circumstances of each case and the reason that extra financial assistance is being requested.

    You also need to make sure you have provisions in place for claimants to request a review of a decision on a DHP, and that if you take DLA into account you can justify this.

    #63436
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    Bob – why do you state

    “You also need to make sure you have provisions in place for claimants to request a review of a decision on a DHP, and that if you take DLA into account you can justify this.”

    There is no statutory scheme, many LA’s have an officer or member panel which would consider requests for review simply because they felt it appropriate to give such an opportunity.

    The only statutory provision is that La’s can review an award whenever and for whatever reason they believe necessary, that may or may not be because the circumstances of the customer have changed or because the customer has asked for such a thing to happen.

    You no doubt will come back with an HRA or JR justification however I don’t think it would hold water given the absolute discretionary nature of the award in the first place. Decisions need to be reasonable in a wednesbury sense and I think any decision to include DLA as income isn’t necessarily going to fall especially given the case law (which I believe is relevant) quoted in this thread.

    #63437
    Stephen Murray
    Participant

    I have a transcript available (please post your Email address) of the LB of Barnet HBRB, ex parte Turner and although this does indeed refer to the old “exceptional hardship” reg I believe the principals are still relevant, so looks like myself and Bob will have to agree to disagree on the subject of an award of DLA being “wholly irrelevant”.
    I note that the analysis in CPAG to the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 mentions that the mobility component of DLA should be ignored (in line with the above caselaw) but perhaps significantly makes no mention of the care component being ignored likewise.

    #63438
    Anonymous
    Guest
    #63439
    Bobkirkpatrick
    Participant

    I accept that the DFA Regulations say that an authority “may” review any decision re a DHP – CPAG suggests that this confers a right to a review, but even if it doesn’t then certain principles apply.

    All I would say is that I would hope that every local authority has a mechanism in place for listening to and taking into account representations made by claimants who are denied a DHP or where they are unhappy about the amount awarded. If nothing else, it’s good practice.

    #63440
    Stephen Murray
    Participant

    Hi Erika

    I’ve Emailed you a copy of the case transcript in word format, hope thats ok.

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