Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law & Human Rights team has helped a woman overturn a decision made by Trafford Council on whether to award a discretionary housing payment.
When changes to the welfare system were introduced in April 2013, the government increased the funding to the Discretionary Housing Payments budget by £30 million. Discretionary Housing Payments are available to people who need assistance with meeting their housing costs, usually as a result of introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’.
Ms W suffers from chronic asthma, bronchitis, dilated cardiomyopathy, diabetes and glaucoma. She has been assessed as requiring the higher rate of mobility and care component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
As a result of her disabilities, she cannot work. She lives in a three bedroom property which has been specially adapted to meet her needs. When housing benefit changes were introduced in April 2013, she was met with a shortfall which she could not afford to pay. Ms W could not move quickly to a smaller property because such a property would have to be adapted to meet her needs and it is likely that this would be at an additional cost to the council.
Ms W applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment to meet the shortfall in her rent each month. Trafford Council assessed Ms W’s income and expenditure and concluded that she had sufficient income to pay the shortfall in her rent. In assessing her income, the council included Ms W’s Disability Living Allowance.
How Irwin Mitchell Helped
Irwin Mitchell advised that this policy was likely to amount to disability discrimination and that Ms W’s Disability Living Allowance should not be assessed as income.
Following Irwin Mitchell’s assistance, Trafford Council agreed to reconsider its assessment of Ms W’s eligibility for a Discretionary Housing Payment, also noting that she had a recent change in circumstances. It has now granted Ms W a payment which covers her shortfall for 2013/2014.
Ms W says: "I was extremely worried as to how I was going to pay the shortfall in my rent. It is not that easy for disabled people to move to smaller properties, particularly when the house they live in has been specially adapted to take account of their disabilities. Thanks to the support of Irwin Mitchell, I now don’t have to worry about this for the rest of the year."
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 & Human Rights team on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form
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