Everyone hit by the Bedroom Tax should apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment - the form can be downloaded
from the url below in the Council site http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/3839/di scretionary_housing_payments_form Don’t be put off making a DHP application. As the housing charity Shelter write: “Who can get a discretionary housing payment? Anyone can get a discretionary housing payment. It's up to your housing benefit department to decide who should be given the payments.” http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topi cs/paying_for_a_home/housing_and_council_tax_ben efit/discretionary_housing_payments Some tips for filling in the DHP form. Write down as much info as possible. If possible get letters of support, eg from your GP, CPN, consultant, any medical specialist, any other professional eg social worker. If you are not used to filling in forms its good to get someone whose good at that, an advice/ support agency, or ECAP to help. When you submit the form, either – deliver it personally, and make sure you get a
receipt – if you post it, do so using the “signed for” service, about £1.50 extra, keep the receipt and check online its been picked up – or do it by e mail, making sure it is acknowledged with a “received” e mail (the council normally does this automatically. (this applies to all forms submitted to CEC or the DWP, they are notorious for “losing” forms…) Some pointers on the questions in the form… 2. “Why did you move to this address?” Explain fully, including making it clear that you were not given the choice of somewhere with less bedrooms. 3. “What, if anything, makes this address especially suitable for you?” If you have any health problems explain why your home and/ or its location is especially suitable. Eg if it has been adapted for your disabilities. Or, if you have mental health issues, then you need a familiar environment and/or an environment where you have a network of friends, family, carers - this could equally apply if you have physical health problems. If you have school age children explain how it would be really disruptive to their education if you had to move to another area. Explain if a move would disrupt child care arrangements. DWP guidelines (no.53) state: with
“An individual or family who rely heavily on local support network ……it may be appropriate to use DHP to make up the shortfall in their rent.” 4. “Please tell me about any health problems that you or any member of your family might have.” It is important to answer this very fully, and it is very important to get letters from your GP or other medical professionals to back you up. However don’t delay putting in the form to wait for letters – you can put the form in, indicating that letters will follow, then submit them when you have them. DHP should be available for couples with long term medical condition or disability that create difficulties in sharing a bedroom, according to the government, also for people whose homes have had significant disability adaptations http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/bedroom-tax
6. “Do you have any relatives or friends who could help you?” Answer NO. Income/ expenditure form They ask you to list all income and expenditure. Clearly it is important to show that you have no spare money, ie your expenditure is equal to, or slightly greater than, your income.
Remember if you are too ill to cook, then you will have to pay for more expensive take-aways. If you are too ill to get the bus, you will have to pay for regular taxis. If you are sick/ have disabilities, you will have to spend a lot of time indoors and your heating bills will probably be very high, especially if your illness means you need warmth. Remember to list all debts you are paying back. 7. “If you have any other circumstances you would like us to take into account please tell us.” If you are nearing the exemption age of 61 years and five months then explain that. If you were homeless before getting your home, explain that fully, also if you were homeless at any time in the past. These are just two examples, put down what is relevant to your circumstances. -These are some initial ideas for filling in the DHP form, if you have more ideas or have seen more information on a website or on a leaflet do share your information with us. EXEMPTIONS
If you have disabilities and need an overnight carer you are entitled to an exemption and should appeal against the cut and apply for that. Also you should appeal for an exemption if you have children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities. Others can also appeal and apply for an exemption but the chances of success are much less, though its good to appeal on principle anyway.
The new rules currently allow one bedroom for: every adult couple; any other adult aged 16 or over; any two children of the same sex aged under 16; any two children aged under 10; a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care. However, the DWP has issued guidance (HB/CTB U2/2013) that it accepts the Court of Appeal judgment of May 2012 in the case of Gorry that unanimously held that that the Local Housing Allowance size criteria discriminated unlawfully on grounds of disability by not including provision to meet the need for a disabled child for an additional bedroom.
This means that from the date of the Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012, local authorities (LAs) should allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities following the guidelines as set out below “When a claimant says that their children are unable to share a bedroom, it will be for LAs to satisfy themselves that this is the case, for example, a claim is likely to be supported by medical evidence and many children are likely to be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their medical condition. In addition LAs must consider not only the nature and severity of the disability, but also the nature and frequency of care required during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally be required to share the bedroom. In all cases this will come down to a matter of judgement on facts of each individual case.”
================== The Government has said that it will be issuing guidance to LAs emphasising that discretionary housing payments are available for priority groups that include the needs of people whose homes have had significant
disability adaptations and those adults with long term medical condition or disability that create difficulties in sharing a bedroom.
The Government has also said that it is to introduce new regulations before April 2013 to allow a bedroom for people who are approved foster carers whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements (so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months); and adult children who are in the Armed Forces but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations. However, the Government does not accept that the Gorry judgment also provides for an extra bedroom with respect to disabled adults - for example where the claimant is one of a couple who is unable to share a bedroom or where an extra room is required for equipment connected with their disability. It therefore has no plans to introduce new housing benefit regulations that provide for an extra bedroom with respect to disabled adults.
3 new exemptions for the bedroom tax (under occupancy in the social rented sector) which started yesterday. The following will be able to get an extra room. (A new regulation brings in the first 2 changes Social Security The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2013 no 665) People who are approved foster carers will be allowed an extra room, whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements, so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months. Adult children who are in the Armed Forces (including the Reserve Forces) but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations - in addition, housing benefit recipients will not be subject to a non-dependent deduction, i.e. the amount that those who are working are expected to contribute to the household expenses, until the adult child return home. 2 children under 10 who can’t share because of disability. The government have also dropped their appeal about the local housing allowance ruling in the Court of Appeal re whether 2 children under 10 should be allowed a bedroom each. If a disabled child means they can not share a room then it is possible for a
decision maker in the local authority to rule that separate rooms are allowed (normally they would be expected to share). This should now also apply to in the social rented sector and the bedroom tax.