Issue - meetings
Discretionary Housing Payment Policy - 2016 revision
Meeting: 14/04/2016 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019) (Item 222)
222 Review of Discretionary Housing Payment policy PDF 112 KB
The Executive Director, Organisational Development & Corporate Serviceshas submitted a report which seeks approval of the revised Discretionary Housing Payment policy for 2016.
Recommendations: That the City Executive Board resolves to:
1. Approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment policy.
- Appendix 1 - Discretionary Housing Payment Policy, item 222 PDF 128 KB
- Appendix 2 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy Risk Register, item 222 PDF 46 KB View as DOCX (222/3) 17 KB
- Appendix 3 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy Equalities Impact Assessment, item 222 PDF 62 KB View as DOCX (222/4) 20 KB
- Appendix 4 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy background information, item 222 PDF 51 KB View as DOCX (222/5) 16 KB
The Executive Director, Organisational Development & Corporate Servicessubmitted a report seeking approval of the revised Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) policy for 2016.
The Executive Board member for Customer and Corporate Services presented the report.
Councillor Fooks said she hoped that the council could help as much as possible and while it could not offer unlimited support should offer ongoing support in genuinely exceptional circumstances where there is no other option.
The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee presented the committee’s recommendations. The Board noted the Scrutiny Committee report and their published responses to the recommendations.
The City Executive Board resolved to:
Approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment policy as set out in the report and appendices.
Meeting: 05/04/2016 - Scrutiny Committee (Item 113)
113 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy - 2016 revision PDF 112 KB
The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.
Why is it on the agenda?
The City Executive Board will be asked to approve the report at its meeting on 14 April 2016. This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.
Who has been invited to comment?
Councillor Susan Brown, Executive Board Member Customer and Corporate Services;
Paul Wilding, Revenues & Benefits Programme Manager.
- Appendix 1 - Discretionary Housing Payment Policy, item 113 PDF 128 KB
- Appendix 2 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy Risk Register, item 113 PDF 46 KB View as DOCX (113/3) 17 KB
- Appendix 3 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy Equalities Impact Assessment, item 113 PDF 62 KB View as DOCX (113/4) 20 KB
- Appendix 4 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy background information, item 113 PDF 51 KB View as DOCX (113/5) 16 KB
The Revenue and Benefits Programme Manager introduced the report. The Committee heard that the lowering of the benefit cap would take place mid-way through the current year and was expected to affect 350-400 people in Oxford, many of whom were expected to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Following a 50% cut last year, the Council’s funding allocation had been increased for the current year (2016/17) to take account of the lowering of the benefit cap and was expected to increase further next year.
The Committee were concerned that despite the clear housing need in the City (as evidenced by the high number of refused cases), the Council was again giving back some of the grant funding to the Government and had not used any of the additional £150k set aside in the budget. The Committee questioned whether the changes to the DHP policy would ensure that no money would be returned to government at year end next time, and whether there was a strategy for balancing spend over the year. The Committee heard that DHP was used as a tool to effect longer term changes by helping people to become more financially independent while sustaining tenancies. The Council’s focus was on applying these principles rather than on spending a set amount of money.
The Committee questioned why households with children were no longer being prioritised for DHP and heard that this prioritisation had been added last year but was no longer considered to be necessary given that the grant funding had increased. No groups were precluded from being awarded a DHP. The Committee supported this change to the policy and questioned whether people who had been refused a DHP when the policy was tighter would be invited to re-apply.
The Committee noted that in addition to the DHP grant allocation, £150k of homelessness prevention funding had been made available and there was an overall spending ceiling of 2.5 times the grant allocation. The Committee questioned how spend was managed and what the legal position was given that councils cannot place undue restrictions on DHP awards such as using spending caps as a refusal reason. The Committee heard that the Council’s approach of ensuring that DHPs delivered improved outcomes, rather than passively awarding funding, offered some protection.
The Committee AGREED to make two recommendations to the City Executive Board:
1. That consideration is given to inviting people who were refused a Discretionary Housing Payment in 2015-16 to reapply in light of the proposed policy change and any changes in their personal circumstances.
2. That the Council keeps a watching brief on the legal position with regards to Discretionary Housing Payment spending limits and on the approaches being taken by other local authorities.
Meeting: 12/03/2015 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019) (Item 148)
148 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy PDF 259 KB
The Head of Customer Services has submitted a report which details the revised Discretionary Housing Payments Policy
Officer Recommendation: That the City Executive Board approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy at Appendix 1
The Head of Customer Services has submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended) which detailed the revised Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Policy
Cllr Brown, Board Member for Customer Services and Social Inclusion presented the report. She explained that the Council had received fewer applications for DHP as fewer people were able to afford to live in Oxford. This was a failure of the national policy which didn’t vary the amount of grant available depending on local housing prices.
The government’s DHP grant had reduced significantly which meant the Council had introduced conditionality to its policy to prioritise need. The effects of this policy change will be monitored and an update report will be presented to the Board in 6 months.
Cllr Fooks noted that the Council had returned DHP grant money to the government in both the previous two years because it had not spend it. She disagreed with the policy change and the argument that prioritisation of need was needed to discourage welfare dependency. She felt that if the money was available the Council should spend it to help people.
Cllr Turner agreed that the Council shouldn’t have excess money in contingencies; he believed that all Councillors agreed with the policy and it was the amount of funds allocated to DHP payments which was causing disagreement. It was the government’s decoupling of rents from money available in housing allowance which was at fault.
The Chief Executive explained that officers had been very proactive in helping people through the welfare reform programmes. If there is a need, the council will meet it from the homelessness contingency budget.
Cllr Simmons said the Scrutiny Committee had requested a review report in a few months’ time. He reminded the Board that the government allowed the Council to spend up to 2.5 times the government grant - to top up its DHP grant.
Cllr Brown said the Council had to be cautious as we don’t know the amount the government grant will be in the future.
The City Executive Board resolved to
- APPROVE the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy at Appendix 1
- AGREE that an update report be presented to the Board at the end of quarter 2 (if not sooner) reviewing the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment Policy and its impact on the people of Oxford.
Meeting: 12/03/2015 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019) (Item 149)
149 Scrutiny Committee Report_ Discretionary Housing Payments Policy PDF 84 KB
The Scrutiny Officer has submitted a report which presents comments from the Scrutiny Committee on the Discretionary Housing Payment Policy
Scrutiny Committee Recommendation to the City Executive Board:
We recommend that the City Executive Board approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy.
The Scrutiny Officer submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended) which detailed comments from the Scrutiny Committee on the Discretionary Housing Payment Policy
Cllr Simmons, Chair of Scrutiny Committee presented the report. He explained the reason for the minority view on the amount allocated in the budget for DHP. Council had allocated more money to DHP payments in the draft budget, (before the government had announced its reduction in the DHP grant) than had been agreed in the final budget. A minority of the Scrutiny Committee felt that the extra money should be reinstated.
Cllr Price said the DHP policy would be continually monitored and if more support was needed than there was money available in the homelessness contingency grant.
The City Executive Board resolved to APPROVE the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy.
Meeting: 02/03/2015 - Scrutiny Committee (Item 93)
93 Discretionary Housing Payment Policy PDF 260 KB
The City Executive Board on 12 March will be asked to approve the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy. From 2015/16 Oxford City Council’s grant will reduce from £514,496 to £288,092, a reduction of 44%.
Why is it on the agenda?
The Scrutiny Committee requested to pre-scrutinise this report.
Who has been invited to comment?
Paul Wilding will present this item and answer the Committee’s questions.
The Programme Manager for Revenue & Benefits presented a report (previously circulated, now appended) on the revised Discretionary Housing Payment Policy which the City Executive Board will be asked to approve on 12 March.
Cllr Brown, Executive Member for Customer Services and Social Inclusion explained that from 2015/16 Oxford City Council’s DHP grant will reduce from £514,496 to £288,092, a reduction of 44%. The government has made it clear that the DHP policy is a temporary funding measure which will continue to be reduced. It has also said that councils cannot give more than double the amount given by government. It is therefore important that individuals not become reliant on DHP funding as they will need to manage without it in the future. The Council had written conditionality into the policy to prioritise those most in need and has chosen not to contribute the maximum they could.
The Committee discussed whether the Council should contribute more towards funding DHP and whether prioritising individuals was necessary.
The Committee requested an update report on the DHP policy/payments be presented in September 2015.