The government has released a Guide to Housing under Universal Credit which contradicts its own policies and even the law when it comes to Discretionary Housing Payments or DHP.
If “Discretionary housing payments are a temporary solution ..” as this guide says then why does the government guidance issued to local authorities say they can be paid on a long term basis? Even more bizarre given that the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham lost a judicial review case over their failure to even look at an indefinite DHP award recently!
Also the DWP has used DHP indefinite awards as the basis of its legal defence in the bedroom tax cases of MA & Ors which the (gullible) Supreme Court has accepted as mitigating the clearly found discrimination that policy holds.
Yet what also jumped off the page at me was the second emphasis above and how this relates to the overall benefit cap policy:
“To receive discretionary housing payments you must be entitled to Universal Credit, including the housing costs element...”
In the existing system a couple with say 5 children way exceed the overall benefit cap level and yet receive a nominal fifty pence per week in Housing Benefit so that they ARE eligible to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is the only reason they are awarded this nominal 50 pence per week.
Yet under Universal Credit the same household does not get this nominal 50 pence per week in hosting costs payment (the UC replacement for HB) and so they do not receive any housing costs payment.
Receiving and being entitled to are two separate issues and even though this illustrative couple with 5 children do not receive any housing costs payment they are still entitled to it and be assessed for it.
I suspect this is just poor wording yet the following sentence says
“You will need to check with your local authority to see if you can claim a discretionary housing payment.“
Anyone can claim a DHP even a multi-billionaire and of course not qualify and the wording could be read by your local council that they could exclude you from getting a DHP because you do not get a penny for housing costs under Universal Credit and they therefore have the ability to exclude you from a DHP on this basis.
While I still suspect this is incredibly poor drafting and nothing more I couldn’t help but smile at the apparent reason this new Universal Credit guide has not been issued on the http://www.gov.uk website … which is because that site does not like graphics!
Ah the full DIGITAL roll out of Universal Credit!!