Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme

What is the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme?

The Worcester City Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme is intended to assist vulnerable low income Worcester households in crisis who need assistance with the cost of utilities, food or white goods.

The scheme is used to complement other services and will not cover needs more appropriately addressed by other funds or benefits (see list further down the page).

Eligibility criteria are used to ensure the funds are targeted at the most vulnerable residents with the greatest needs. Full details can be found in the scheme’s guidance document.

All requests will be considered on an individual basis with due account given to the vulnerability and personal circumstances of each applicant.

What type of support is available in Worcester?  

Type of Support

Who and What

  Applications                  

Crisis Living Support

To assist with an immediate short term need for assistance with emergency food, gas and electricity, and white goods. Support is available for vulnerable households who are experiencing a disaster, crisis or exceptional financial pressure and the health of a member of the household will significantly deteriorate as a direct result.

Goods available:

  • Food/Energy Vouchers: Co-op Vouchers – these can be redeemed for food or utility top-ups (at stores with a Paypoint machine)

White Goods:

  • one electric cooker
  • one fridge (or fridge freezer for families)
  • one washing machine (for families)

All white goods are new and include delivery and installation by a qualified fitter.

No choice can be given on the size, type or style of white goods.

Food/Energy Vouchers:

A maximum of two applications per 12 month rolling period can be made for each household for food and energy vouchers.

Applications from members of the same household will be treated as a repeat application.

Each voucher awarded counts as one application:

  • Food Voucher is one application
  • Energy Voucher is one application
  • Any combination of two vouchers count as two separate applications which will be the maximum claim for the year.

White Goods:

One application for the lifetime of the scheme.

Only those items needed at the point of application should be applied for (referrers are responsible for verifying need prior to submitting application).

Any combination of items counts as one application.

Applications from members of the same household will be treated as a repeat application.

Applications for white goods require a declaration form to be signed by the applicant and referrer and submitted to housing@worcester.gov.uk within 14 days. Download the declaration form.

Settlement Support

 

To assist with white goods to help with re-establishment in the community after a period of unsettled or supported accommodation.

Goods available as follows:

  • Singles/Couples:
  • Electric Cooker
  • Fridge

Families:

  • Electric Cooker
  • Fridge Freezer
  • Washing Machine

All white goods are new and include delivery and installation by a qualified fitter.

No choice can be given on the size, type or style of white goods.

One application for the lifetime of the scheme.

Only those items needed at the point of application should be applied for (referrers are responsible for verifying need prior to submitting application).

Any combination of items counts as one application.

Applications from members of the same household will be treated as a repeat application.

Applications for white goods require a declaration form to be signed by the applicant and referrer and submitted to housing@worcester.gov.uk within 14 days. Download the declaration form.

Key Information about the scheme for prospective Worcester applicants

Scheme eligibility

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Is over 16
  • Has been resident in Worcester City for at least 6 months or has a strong connection to Worcester City if they are homeless, or have moved to Worcester City after leaving custody or institutional care.
  • Is not subject to immigration control and would not fail a habitual residency test
  • Has no savings or other means of accessing support
  • Is in one of the following priority groups:
    • Households which include dependent children under the age of 16
    • Households which include a pregnant woman
    • Households which include a person with a disability or chronic illness
    • Households which include a person who is receiving support from secondary mental health services
    • Homeless households
    • Households which include a person receiving care or support in the home from the local authority or health service
    • Households which include a person who is considered to be vulnerable due to having suffered violence or domestic abuse
  • Is in receipt of, or is entitled to one of the following income related benefits:
    • Housing Benefit
    • Income Support
    • Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
    • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Guaranteed Pension Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • Universal Credit (if you are out of work)

Crisis Living Support eligibility

In addition to the scheme eligibility criteria listed above, applicants for Crisis Living Support must also be experiencing one of the following issues:

  • Experiencing exceptional financial difficulty, e.g. due to being the victim of robbery/burglary, or having significant unexpected expenditure
  • Having experienced a disaster or emergency, such as fire, flood, gas explosion, bereavement
  • Experiencing homelessness, or the threat of homelessness
  • Fleeing violence or domestic abuse

Re-Settlement Support Eligibility Criteria

The Re-settlement Support element of the DWAS is intended to meet the ‘planned’ need of a vulnerable person coming out of unsettled or supported accommodation which is unfurnished and where the applicant does not already have essential white goods. For example someone:

  • Leaving hospital
  • Leaving Prison
  • Leaving institutional or residential care
  • Moving out of temporary accommodation
  • Moving out of refuge accommodation
  • Moving out of hostel or supported accommodation
  • Homeless households or rough sleepers moving into independent accommodation

In order to ensure that assistance is available to those in most need, an application to the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme should only be made where all other options have been exhausted.

For clarity, the DWAS cannot assist in the following circumstances:

  • The applicant is able to get help privately, either from their own money, savings or resources, or where family or friends are able to assist them
  • The applicant has white goods available to them but they would prefer new items
  • The household has received 1 award of white goods for the duration of the scheme. For the purposes of a DWAS award, households are members of the same family who live together.  Applications from members of the same household will be treated as ineligible.
  • The need could be met through eligibility to any of the following schemes:
    • DWP Short Term Benefit Advance (while awaiting first or increased DWP payment)
    • DWP Budgeting Loan
    • DWP Hardship Payment
    • DWP statutory social fund payments (for example, Winter Fuel Allowance, Sure Start Maternity grants, or Funeral Payments)
    • Requirements under Fair Access to Care services (FACS), for example, statutory duty to provide medical or disability equipment

Who do I contact about the scheme?

You cannot apply directly – a supporting agency or organisation must apply on your behalf. This could be a support worker, care worker, health professional such as a mental health worker or health visitor, children's centre, local charity, housing or homelessness support service.

  • Your supporting agency or organisation will gather information necessary for submitting an application with you.
  • Your support agency will call the Worcestershire Hub  (01905 722233 option 8) to make the application. Applications can be made between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
  • You must be  with your support agency or organisation whilst your application is  processed as you may have to answer further questions
  • If your support agency or organisations are unable to answer questions on your behalf you risk your application being declined.

What happens if my application is declined?  

Your referrer can request a second opinion by emailing housing@worcester.gov.uk  with details of your circumstances and details of why they believe discretion should be given to make an award outside the normal policy on the grounds of exceptional circumstances . The request must be made in writing within seven days of the original decision.

A second opinion will be considered by an Officer who was not involved in the original decision and the agency will be notified of their decision.

The outcome of the second opinion is final and there is no right to request a review or further appeal.

What if I need furniture?

Furniture is available via other organisations, including Armchair

Other Forms of support

If you are ineligible for assistance from the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme, other organisations may be able to help you, please see the table below for information: 

Discretionary Housing Payment

Source of assistance

Details

Discretionary Housing Payment

May be used to pay for:

  • rent deposits
  • rent in advance
  • rent arrears (but not if you were receiving enough housing benefit to pay all of your rent at the time the arrears built up)
  • a shortfall between housing benefit and rent
  • reductions in housing benefit, after changes in April 2013 known as the 'bedroom tax'
  • reductions in local housing allowance resulting from changes from April 2011 (benefit caps).
  • Any costs associated with housing eg removals

A discretionary housing payment (DHP) cannot be paid if the reason for shortfall is that your housing benefit has been reduced to recover an overpayment or because other benefits have been reduced, for example, because leaving last job voluntarily.

DWP Hardship Payment

Budgeting Loans ensure that those with the lowest incomes claiming Universal Credit have access to an interest free alternative to high cost lending for emergency and unforeseen circumstances.  They are intended to help claimants defray intermittent expenses such as needing to buy essential household items such as furniture or household equipment, or expenses related to, for example, maternity or starting work.

Households must have been in receipt of the following benefits for 26 weeks or more to be eligible:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

DWP Budgeting Loan

When someone makes, or is about to make, a new claim to benefit, they can sometimes encounter a period of financial need before receiving their first payment of benefits.  Short term advances provide an advance of their future benefit award which will then be recovered from subsequent payments of benefit.

Also available to claimants who have experienced a change of circumstances that will increase the benefits to which they are entitled.

Disabled Facilities Grant or disability related expenditure

These grants are mandatory housing grants, and awarded to enable applicants to have access to and around their homes, or to use essential facilities in the home to enable them to live independently. A referral from the Occupational Therapist (OT) via Social Services confirming that the works are ‘necessary and appropriate is required. This referral will specify the works required.

Foodbanks

Vouchers can be issued by professionals to be redeemed against three days worth of food from the Worcester Foodbank. Only 3 vouchers can be issued per household in a 12 month period

Utility Companies – Trust Funds

British Gas & EDF Energy

www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk     

For EDF & British Gas Customers: email: bget@charisgrants.com

EDF Energy Trust, PO Box 42, Peterborough PE3 8XH

Tel: 01733 421060

  • Clear domestic gas and electricity debts and other priority household debts, e.g. rent arrears, council tax debts.
  • Purchase essential household items, e.g. washing machines, cookers
  • Provide other forms of financial assistance, e.g. bankruptcy deposits, funeral expenses.

Npower Customers

For Npower Customers: www.npowerenergyfund.com

Apply online or if you would prefer to be sent an application form in post telephone 01733 421 060 or email npef@charisgrants.com stating the name and full address to send the form to the address stated (no stamp required)

  • The Fund can help with debts of domestic gas / electricity charges owed to Npower.

Severn Trent Trust Fund

http://www.sttf.org.uk

  • Severn Trent Trust Fund can consider making a grant to meet water and/or sewerage charges due to Severn Trent Water if you are in hardship and unable to pay
  • The Trust can also help with water or sewerage charges which are collected by other companies or organisations on behalf of Severn Trent Water
  • In certain cases, the Trust can also consider giving some help to meet other essential bills, household needs or priority debts 
For women or men and families fleeing abuse
For people seeking assistance for food, clothing, furniture but don't qualify under the scheme or are seeking financial assistance advice

You could try your local freecycle or find free impartial online money and benefit advice: