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Disabled Couple Wins DHP DLA Case

March 31, 2015

Councils may have to review their emergency housing payment policies after a High Court ruled that routinely considering disability benefit when calculating discretionary housing payments is unlawful.

In a judgement published yesterday, the High Court quashed Sandwell Council’s decision to lower its discretionary housing payment (DHP) award to a bedroom-tax hit couple because they received disability living allowance (DLA).

In September 2013, the council granted a lower DHP award to disabled couple Michael and Jayne Hardy because it calculated their DLA as part of their income when they applied for help to cover the bedroom tax.

Mr and Mrs Hardy, who live in a three bedroomed specially adapted property, took a judicial review against the local authority in October 2013, arguing that its decision was discriminatory.

The judgement said: ‘The council’s policy of always taking into account DLA as income when assessing awards of DHP, as reflected in the Sandwell policy, fails to have due regard to the DHP guidance, constitutes a failure to exercise the council’s discretion and fetters any future exercise of that discretion.’

The court also ruled that Sandwell Council had discriminated against the couple.

Giles Peaker, partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors, wrote on his blog: ‘The court did not agree a blanket ban on taking into account DLA in calculating other benefits.

‘However, given the terms of the remaining areas of the judgment, any council that proposes to continue taking DLA into account in assessing income for DHP awards needs to consider it very carefully indeed.’

The decision is important because it means councils will now find it much harder to take DLA into account when calculating DHP awards, meaning they may have to redraw their policies.

Research by Inside Housing last year found at least 1,600 disabled people were denied DHP by councils.

Research by the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, which intervened in the case, has found that 22 out of the 32 London boroughs consider DLA when determining the level of a DHP award. DHP has been cut most in London and the south east for the next financial year.

Joanna Kennedy, chief executive, Z2K, said she was ‘delighted’ by the decision.

She said: ‘We urge all authorities that currently count DLA as income in the calculation of discetionary any payment or benefit to cease this practice’

The DWP and Sandwell Council did not comment.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2015 12:45 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. joy permalink
    March 31, 2015 1:06 pm

    We were in the same situation as this couple & told to pay the excess out of DLA, even though it just covers a car [i.e. mobility car and the care component is used for petrol money]

  3. Nick permalink
    March 31, 2015 1:11 pm

    all councils are just as bad as the Conservative as there the same breed the same as estate agents all the same all out to destroy the lives of others across the board

  4. March 31, 2015 5:49 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  5. jeffrey davies permalink
    April 5, 2015 10:27 am

    common sense atlast

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