FOI Request - Under Occupancy Policy

Request 101000199300

Please provide the following information:

1. How much money has your council applied for in order to top up the Discretionary Housing Payment fund from:

a) the Department of Communities and Local Government for permission to transfer money from your Housing Revenue Account to the DHP fund and,

b) the Department for Work and Pensions for any of the additional DHP funds set out in the Department’s circular HB U4/2013,30 July 2013: i) as part of the £5 million for isolated rural areas, ii) as part of the £20 million available for all LAs to submit bids for,

and if so, how much have you been granted?

2. How:

a) many new staff has your council hired, or diverted from other activities

b) much extra funding have you allocated

to deal with housing benefit issues as a result of the under occupancy (or if it is too difficult to isolate, as a result of all welfare reform in 2013 compared to 2012) such as:

i) advice services,

ii) arrears collection,

iii) DHP processing,

iv) House swap facilitation

v) Any other – please give details.

3. How many disabled tenants living in adapted properties in your area: a) are affected by the under occupancy policy, b) have expressed a desire to move, and c) how many have moved at what cost?

Response 10-12-2013

1) Moray Council did not apply to either the Department of Communities and Local Government or DWP to top up the DHP fund. The Council has been awarded a total DHP fund of £252,230 this includes £180,923 for being a rural area.

2a) 1 extra member of staff diverted, in part, to deal with DHP’s.

b) Funding received from The Scottish Office to take us up to our permitted total.

i) None.

ii) 

iii) 1 extra member of staff diverted in part to deal with DHP Processing.

iv) 

v) 4 members of staff diverted in part to deal with the Scottish Welfare Fund

Housing Services: No additional staff have been hired specifically for under occupancy related activities, nor have any staff been diverted solely to this. Instead, the work has been spread across a number of existing staff who have each diverted a proportion of their time to this work. This can be summarised as -

0.5 days per week x 9 Area Housing Officers (advice, DHP applications, escalated arrears, house swaps and downsizing)

1 day per week x 5 Housing Assistants (dealing with £0-250 arrears)

0.5 days per week x 1 Housing Policy Officer (advance preparation, arrears reporting and risk assessment, completing surveys, attending practice forums etc.) )

3) The Council only has access to the current disability status of its tenants when they have a current Transfer List application.  As at 28 November 2013, there were 24 current Transfer List applicants who were subject to the Under Occupancy Charge, and who had been given Medical Points under the current Allocations Policy.  Of those, 12 were in receipt of Discretionary Housing Payments.

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