Westminster Council faces High Court challenge over crisis payment conditions

According to ‘Inside Housing’;

“The High Court has given the go-ahead to a legal challenge that could prevent councils forcing people to join a work programme or move home as conditions of receiving housing crisis payment awards.

Anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust has been given permission to pursue a judicial review against Westminster Council for making receipt of discretionary housing payments (DHP) conditional on seeking work and searching for more affordable properties.

DHPs are time-limited payments to help people who are struggling to meet their housing costs.

In a legal document setting out the grounds of the challenge, seen by Inside Housing this week, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust says Westminster Council’s policy on deciding DHP claims for tenants affected by the £26,000-a-year total household benefit cap is unlawful.

In the legal document Westminster Council set out its policy: ‘Conditionality will be linked to the claimant being able to show engagement with work programmes and/or action to find alternative accommodation.’

The challenge was given permission to be heard in court in July, with a hearing likely in February.

The document stated that some DHP claimants had been expected to attend all interviews arranged by Jobcentre Plus.

Zacchaeus 2000 Trust alleges Westminster Council does not have any lawful power under the housing benefit regulations to impose these conditions on awards of DHP, or to require a DHP recipient to agree to conditions as a pre-condition of DHP.

It is not known how many other councils are imposing these conditions

Giles Peaker, partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors, said: ‘Councils are creatures of statute, so if there isn’t something which says “you can do this at your complete discretion”, then they can’t really do it. I think it’s a viable case.’

In January a disabled couple were given permission to bring a judicial review against Sandwell Council for taking disability living allowance into account when deciding how much DHP to give out.

Inside Housing reported in August last year that Edinburgh Council was denying DHP to bedroom tax tenants if they were deemed to spend too much on alcohol or cigarettes.”

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This entry was posted in Advice services, Discretionary Housing Payments, Housing, Housing Benefit, Jobs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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