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The DWAS scheme is for Worcester residents only. Please contact the relevant local authority for details of schemes in their area. Check your local authority using your postcode.

A DWAS application must be made by a referral agency - 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.

About the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme (DWAS)

The Worcester City Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme is intended to assist vulnerable low-income Worcester households who are in need of assistance with the cost of food, energy, white goods or other essential items.

What support is available?

  • Crisis Support – for an unplanned need arising due to severe financial hardship or exceptional circumstances
  • Re-Settlement Support – need arising as part of a planned resettlement from temporary/unsettled accommodation

Crisis Support

Type of Support

What is provided?

Value

How many awards?

Food Vouchers

A voucher which can be used in-store and online at a variety of retailers.

OR

A voucher for a local supermarket

Dependent on household size:

  • £20 for the first adult in the household
  • £10 per additional household member
  • Up to a maximum of £70

3 awards in a rolling 12-month period

 

Energy Vouchers

Paypoint voucher to support households with pre-payment energy meters

  • £40 for singles/couples
  • £49 for families

3 awards in a rolling 12-month period

Essential Items

Assistance with the provision of items or financial support essential for the household in accordance with the aims of the scheme

Varies depending on the nature of need.

1 award for the lifetime of the scheme

 

Re-Settlement Support

White Goods

Applications should only be made for white goods which are considered to be essential and which the referral agency has verified there is a need for**

Families

  • Electric Cooker*
  • Fridge Freezer
  • Washing Machine

Single/Couples

  • Electric Cooker*
  • Fridge Freezer
 N/A  1 award for the lifetime of the scheme

Essential Items*

Assistance with the provision of items or financial support which are considered essential for the household in accordance with the aims of the scheme**

 Varies depending on the nature of need. 1 award for the lifetime of the scheme 

Type of Support

What is provided?

Value

How many awards?

* Where a standard cooker cannot be installed in a recipient’s home, a tabletop oven and hob will be provided as an alternative.

** Applications for re-settlement support can only be made by an agency actively involved in re-settling the household into their new home (e.g., Prison or Probation Services, Social Care or Health Professionals, Refuge Support Workers, Supported Accommodation Workers, Housing Associations Officers, Housing Support Workers or Local Authority Housing Officers).

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

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

Temporary changes have been made to the scheme utilising Household Support Funding made available by the government. The eligibility criteria and goods and services available under the scheme are subject to change, depending on the availability of Household Support Funding from 2024/25 onwards. Any changes to the scheme will be published on the Council's website and communicated to referring agencies.

For full details of the scheme, please refer to the Worcester City Guidance Document [insert link here].

Charity Shop Gift Card

  • The Council is partnering with this new Social Enterprise to deliver assistance through the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme. The organisation works with national and local charities, offering gift cards which can be used in any participating charity shop.
  • Gift cards will be issued through the scheme to meet the needs of applicants for Essential Items. The Charity Shop Gift Card organisation has worked with charities who have a local retail presence to introduce the scheme to their organisations, ensuring that there will be sufficient coverage in Worcester to support the delivery of the scheme.
  • Partnering with the Charity Shop Gift Card will enable the Council to assist a larger number of households, support charitable organisations in the city, and contribute to achieving its sustainable objectives by supporting reuse of good quality second-hand items.
  • Further details about the gift card and an up-to-date list of participating charity retailers can be found on The Charity Shop Gift Card website.

How do I apply?

 Customers 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 the information necessary for submitting an application with you. This includes a full financial assessment so you will need to provide information about all of your income and expenses.
  • You will also need to provide evidence of any benefits you receive, any children who live with you and the National Insurance numbers of anyone over the age of 16 who lives with you.
  • You must ensure that all information provided as part of a DWAS application is accurate and truthful. Worcester City Council reserves the right to decline any application found to have included inaccurate information and, should an award have already been made to you, may take action to recover the goods or equivalent value from you.
  • If you are experiencing severe financial hardship and need assistance with maximising your income, budgeting or managing your debts, your referring agency should refer or signpost you to other sources of support and assistance.

Application process for referring agencies

Food and energy vouchers:

  • Apply for food and energy voucher
  • pdf Email the Financial Assessment Form (125 KB) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re-Settlement white goods:

  • Apply for resettlement white goods
  • pdf Email the Financial Assessment Form (125 KB) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Crisis white goods:

  • Apply using the  pdf Essential Items application form (262 KB) and send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Essential Items (Re-Settlement or Crisis):

  • Apply using the  pdf Essential Items application form (262 KB) and send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

**Please refer to the pdf DWAS Flow Charts (200 KB) on the website for guidance**

Sharing your information

If you are provided with help and support through DWAS, please be aware that we will share your information with other partner agencies in order to signpost you to the appropriate organisations.

DWAS scheme eligibility

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 schemes.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Over 16
  • 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.
  • Not subject to immigration control and would not fail a habitual residency test
  • Experiencing financial hardship (a financial assessment form must be completed)

Priority groups

  • Households which include dependent children under the age of 16 (or over the age of 16 and in full-time education) or 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
  • Households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • 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

Income/Financial Circumstances

In receipt of, or 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

Additional Eligibility Criteria

In addition to the scheme eligibility criteria, there are additional eligibility criteria for each element of the scheme; Crisis Support and Re-Settlement. These criteria are shown in the table below.

Crisis Support

Re-Settlement

Crisis Support is intended to meet the ‘unplanned’ needs of a household experiencing crisis. Applicants must meet one or more of the following:

  • Experiencing exceptional financial difficulty, e.g. due to significant unexpected expenditure
  • Having experienced a disaster, emergency or significant life event, such as fire, flood, bereavement,
  • Experiencing homelessness, or the threat of homelessness
  • Fleeing violence or domestic abuse

Re-settlement Support is intended to meet the ‘planned’ need of a household coming out of unsettled or supported accommodation. E.g:

  • 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

 Exclusions

Applications to DWAS should be made once all other options and sources of assistance have been explored and exhausted. An award will not be made to an eligible household where the support can be provided elsewhere.

For the avoidance of doubt, the DWAS cannot assist in the following circumstances:

  • The applicant is able to get help privately, either from their own income, savings or resources, or where family or friends are able to assist them
  • The applicant already owns the requested item but would prefer a new one or a different model
  • Items lost due to burglary or disaster are covered by an insurance policy or are a landlord’s responsibility
  • The household has already received the maximum number of awards through DWAS. Applications from members of the same household will be treated as ineligible (households are members of the same family who live together)
  • The need could be met through eligibility for any of the following schemes:
    • DWP Budgeting Advance (without causing further hardship)
    • DWP Budgeting Loan (without causing further hardship)
    • 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
    • Discretionary Housing Payment

What happens if my application is declined?

Your referrer can request a second opinion by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  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 a manager or Team Leader at Worcester City Council 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.

Scheme documents

Please see the table below for copies of all documents relating to the Worcester City Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme:

Other Advice and support

Source

Details

Foodbank

If you need help from our foodbank there are a few simple steps to follow.

The most important step is to get a foodbank voucher.

To provide the most appropriate help for the circumstances of your situation the foodbank works with local agencies. If they feel you are struggling to put food on the table, they will issue you with a foodbank voucher.

The local agency can also provide long-term support if needed to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for your crisis. Agencies we work with include: Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.

  1. Get in touch with The FOODBANK - If you call or email the foodbank they can talk through your situation and put you in touch with a relevant local agency.
  2. Arrange a visit to the referral agency - They will discuss your situation and supply you with a foodbank voucher where appropriate.
  3. Bring your foodbank voucher to your nearest foodbank centre - You can find a list of the local centres and opening times here. When you arrive, they welcome you with a warm drink and trained volunteers will chat with you about your situation.

They will also discuss any dietary needs you may have and exchange your foodbank voucher for a parcel of three days of emergency food. They will also help to support you in any other ways appropriate for your situation

If you have any further questions the FAQs page may help, or feel free to give the Foodbank a call

Furniture

Furniture is available via other organisations, including Armchair,  Freecycle or Gumtree.

Hardship Payments

Hardship Payments are reduced-rate payments of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) that are made in limited circumstances, including if you have been sanctioned.

Short Term Advance

Short Term Benefit Advance is paid as a loan, which has to be paid back out of your future benefit payments

Support For Mortgage

Interest Loan

Support for Mortgage Interest Loan is help towards paying the interest payments on your mortgage or other loans for home purchase, repairs and home improvements. This help is in the form of a loan.

Utility & Energy Bills

British Gas & EDF Energy 

For EDF & British Gas Customers: email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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, and council tax debts.
  • Purchase essential household items, e.g. washing machines, cookers
  • Provide other forms of financial assistance, e.g. bankruptcy deposits, and funeral expenses.

E.ON Next Customers

The Fund can help with debts of domestic gas/electricity charges owed to E.ON Next.

Severn Trent Trust Fund

Severn Trent Trust Fund

  • 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 

Contact

For further enquiries about the Worcester City Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01905 722589

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