Torquay topping the charts for personal insolvency at more than double the national average is a stark demonstration of the financial hardship that many people in Torbay face. Tory cuts to benefits, and our low wage economy, can only exacerbate this problem in the Bay.
In the light of this continuing crisis I’d like to try and raise the profile of Discretionary Housing Payments, so that as many local residents as possible have the opportunity to claim if they have a need. In this current financial year Torbay Council have a fund of £481,000 to allocate to people in Torbay and if it is not spent the money is returned to the government.
To be eligible for DHP the claimant must be entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs.
DHP can cover:
1. Help with ongoing rent shortfalls, i.e. the shortfall between rent charged and Housing Benefit entitlement
2. Rent arrears. If a tenant is at risk of eviction due to rent arrears we can look at making a one off payment to help with the arrears, enabling the customer to remain in their accommodation.
3. Help with costs associated with moving where there is an essential need to move, e.g. removals, storage, rent in advance.
DHP cannot cover:
1. Rent shortfalls due to recovery of overpaid Housing Benefit
2. The cost of services included in the rent which are not eligible for Housing Benefit, e.g., water, gas, electricity, meals.
Although landlords would not be able to apply directly, I would like them to have a good awareness so that they can advise tenants who might be in financial difficulties about the possibility of DHP.
If you think you could qualify for DHP just enter “Discretionary Housing Payments application“ into www.Torbay.gov.uk. Please ensure you include ALL outgoings and income on this form.
Cllr Steve Darling
Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council