A couple who were particularly affected by the welfare system changes on the 1st of April 2013, have struggled to receive the payments they're entitled to, due to an unfair review from their local authorities.
The couple, who are both disabled and no longer able to work, live in a property which has been adapted for their physical disabilities, some of which were paid by savings from when they were able to work.
The government were aware of the impact that the changes to the welfare system may have on the poorer members of the community and therefore, increased the funding to the Discretionary Housing Payments budget by £30 million.
Following this, the couple were hoping the increase in budget would enable them to receive funding to assist in their outgoings, so they applied for Discretionary Housing Payments in March 2013 from their local authority.
However, the local authority decided that after assessing the couple's income, they would take into account the Disability Living Allowance that they both receive. Disability Living Allowance is a non-taxable benefit that is designed to help disabled people with the extra living costs they have as a result of their disability.
Whilst there are no rules in the Discretionary Housing Payment guidance preventing local authorities from taking into account Disability Living Allowance, local authorities are required to consider the purpose of the income and to act fairly in coming to a decision.
The inclusion of Disability Living Allowance in their financial assessment, results in disability discrimination because if the couple were not disabled and not in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, their overall income would be lower and they would have been granted a higher Discretionary Housing Payment.
Following Irwin Mitchell's assistance, the local authority has agreed to review their initial decision.
The gentleman commented: "I am really concerned that the local authority have treated us in this way, having shown complete disregard for our disabilities and the fact that the increase to the Discretionary Housing Payment budget was designed to help disabled people like ourselves living in adapted properties. I am pleased that they have agreed to reconsider their decision."
For expert advice on matters relating to Discretionary Housing Payments and how to challenge a refusal of a Discretionary Housing Payment, please contact Fiona McGhie of Irwin Mitchell's public law team on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form.
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