Extra help and appeals | Central Bedfordshire Council

Extra help and appeals

Local welfare provision

Funding for emergency and grant provision is limited. This means the scheme is subject to change, and can only be provided while funds are available.

Emergency provision

Emergency provision is available following an emergency or crisis to meet the immediate day-to-day expenses relating to food and utilities. Supermarket vouchers and top-ups for pre-paid energy meters are provided to meet these needs.

To be eligible for the emergency provision you must be:

  • permanently residing within Central Bedfordshire
  • 16 years or older
  • in an emergency situation and not have enough money to meet the immediate needs of you and your family

You do not need to be in receipt of any benefit or entitlement.

How to apply

The quickest way to apply is online.

Contact us if you need support

Telephone: 0300 300 8070 (lines are open from 8:30am until 5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8:30 am until 4pm on Friday)

Please note: all applications are online or telephone only. There is no facility to see applicants in person.

Grant provision

Grant provision can provide goods and services to help people to live in the community. It may be offered, for example, for resettlement following a period in care, prison or other institution, or to ease exceptional pressures on families following a breakdown of a relationship or a disaster.

Successful applicants will receive their goods directly. Monetary payments will not usually be made.

To be eligible for grant provision, you must:

  • be permanently residing within Central Bedfordshire
  • receive means-tested benefits, such as Guaranteed Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • be 16 years or older
  • have no other source of income or financial assistance to meet unexpected or expensive outlays

How to apply

Apply online for a grant

Telephone: 0300 300 8070 (lines are open from 8:30 am until 5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8:30am until 4pm on Friday)

We will send you an application form to complete. You will have to attend an interview within 7 working days of receipt of your completed application to discuss your claim. We will make a decision within 7 working days of your interview.

Policies

You can read both the Local Welfare Provision Policy and Local Welfare Provision Appeals Procedures in full below.

Local Welfare Provision Policy

Directorate: Social Care, Health and Housing
Service: Housing Operations
Author: Joanne Bellamy
Approved by: Executive (2013); Head of Housing Operations (2020 amendments)
Approval date: 5 February 2013
Amendments: 24 March 2020
Review date: March 2023

Section 1 - Introduction

This policy document has been produced to set out how Central Bedfordshire Council will deliver the Local Welfare Provision (LWP) scheme that was adopted by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive on 5 February 2013. This policy was subsequently reviewed in 2020.

Our LWP scheme has been set up following the cessation of the discretionary aspects of the Social Fund in March 2013, formerly operated by the Department for Work & Pensions.

The purpose of the LWP scheme is to support the most vulnerable and deprived people within Central Bedfordshire. This scheme is applicable where there is no alternate way to prevent serious damage or serious risk to the health and safety of individuals and their households.

Local Welfare Provision is provided through the form of Emergency Provision (formerly Crisis Loans) and Grant Provision (formerly Community Care Grants), which are defined in section 3.

The Local Welfare Provision service is administered within the Housing Solutions service in the Social Care, Health and Housing directorate. 

Section 2 - Purpose 

The purpose of this policy document is to set out the aims, eligibility criteria and arrangements to fairly administer the Local Welfare Provision scheme as adopted by Executive in February 2013 and amended by the Director of Social Care Health and Housing under delegated authority following a six month review of the scheme and a further review in 2020.

The aims of the scheme are:

  • to assist the short term needs of those in crisis/exceptional hardship through emergency provision
  • to assist those needing help to establish or maintain their independence within Central Bedfordshire through grant provision
  • to support applicants through difficult times by providing budget management advice and signposting to relevant services
  • to make best use of the Council’s resources through the provision of goods, vouchers and services where cash is not the most appropriate form of provision
  • to deliver a scheme flexible enough to adequately meet the individual needs and circumstances of applicants but with sufficient protocols and scrutiny to safeguard appropriate use of public funds
  • to manage the limited amount of ring-fenced funding available effectively and fairly

Section 3 - Scope, definitions and related policies

Definitions

Emergency provision – provides small payments following an emergency or disaster to meet immediate day to day living expenses.

Grant provision – provides goods and services to help vulnerable people to live as independent a life as possible in the community.

Reasonable proof – proof is evidence gathered through the application process, as set out in the application procedure. The decision as to whether the evidence is reasonable is to the discretion of the officer dealing with the application within the guidelines set out in the application procedure.

Section 4 - Policy statement

Eligible persons

Applications for emergency and grant provision will only be considered if the applicant has been continuously resident in Central Bedfordshire six out of the 12 months or three out of the five years prior to the date the application is submitted. If the applicant does not meet the criteria but can demonstrate that they are currently resident and prove a permanent intention to remain within the local authority area, then an application will also be considered. This decision would be to the discretion of the Independent Living Prevention (ILP) – Senior or Team Leader.

Applicants must be aged 16 or over.

Emergency provision eligibility criteria

The applicant must provide reasonable proof that they have suffered an emergency or disaster.

The applicant does not have enough money to meet immediate and essential day to day living expenses for themselves or members of their household.

The applicant must provide reasonable proof that there is no other way to prevent serious damage or serious risk to the health, or safety of themselves or a member of their household.

An application will be refused if assistance from other services may be more appropriate. The applicant will be signposted to the appropriate services in these cases.

Should an applicant be deemed to have created a financial hardship by means of benefit sanction, loss of employment due to misconduct or any other circumstances deemed to be self-imposed then an application may be refused.

An applicant cannot apply for emergency provision if they were successfully awarded an emergency provision payment within the previous six months.

If an applicant was successfully awarded an emergency provision payment within the previous 12 months and applies for another award after six months of being awarded the provision, he/she may be asked to attend a financial review before the application is considered.

Grant provision eligibility criteria

Applicants must be in receipt of one of the following benefits or likely to receive them within the next six weeks and provide evidence to prove this:

  • Income support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

a) Applicants are leaving residential or institutional care – e.g. care home, hospital or prison and provide evidence of this

b) Applicants are being resettled into a new home by Central Bedfordshire Council or a voluntary organisation following an unsettled period in their lives.

c) Applicants are looking after someone who is ill, disabled or just out of prison.

d) Applicants need help because they or their family face exceptional pressure – e.g. because of family breakdown or illness.

Should an applicant be deemed to have created a financial hardship by means of benefit sanction, loss of employment due to misconduct or any other circumstances deemed to be self-imposed then an application may be refused. Where there are mitigating circumstances and no other support available then the application would be considered if supported by a trusted referrer or support worker.

The applicant will be refused assistance if they have access to other funds which could be used to cover costs such as savings.

An application will be refused if assistance from other services may be more appropriate. The applicant will be signposted to the appropriate services in these cases.

Should an applicant approach for assistance to avoid entering residential care, we will support them to explore suitable housing options such as Independent Living Schemes where appropriate.

If an applicant was successfully awarded a grant provision, he/she cannot apply for the same goods or services within 12 months. Exceptional circumstances will be considered at the discretion of ILP senior/ team leader.

If an applicant was successfully awarded a grant provision and applies for an award for other goods or services within 12 months he/she may be asked to attend a financial review before the application is considered.

If we are aware that an applicant owes money to Central Bedfordshire Council they will not be eligible for assistance through Grant Provision. However, if an applicant has a repayment plan in place and can demonstrate that they have been making the required payments then Grant Provision can be considered.

Section 5 - Policy details

LWP application process

The application process is set out in the LWP application procedure.

Each case will be assessed on its own merits.

Award amounts and availability will be subject to sufficient funds being available in line with budgetary spend and forecasting.

Types of support

  1. Beds
  2. Essential domestic appliance
  3. Essential domestic furniture
  4. Gift cards for the purchase of food or food vouchers (no cash will be issued)
  5. Pre-payment cards for utility costs.

Decision making

In deciding whether to make an award for emergency or grant provision the council will take a holistic look at the applicant’s needs and circumstances as well as the amount of funding available in the LWP and Grant provision fund and the anticipated demand for this funding.

The council will consider:

  1. there is sufficient proof of identity
  2. the financial circumstances of the applicant, their partner, their dependants and anyone else who lives with them
  3. any sources of credit such as cash cards, store cards, credit cards, cheque cards, cheque accounts, overdraft facilities and loans if the customer has the means to repay the credit within a short period of time
  4. any help which is likely to be available from other funds or schemes
  5. any expenditure of the applicant, their partner, any dependants and other members of the household
  6. the level of debt the applicant and their household have
  7. any medical issues or exceptional needs of the applicant, their partner, their dependants or anyone else that lives with them
  8. whether an LWP would address the needs of the applicant
  9. whether granting an award would help prevent further or additional needs

Service standards

Emergency provision decisions should be made on the day for applications received before 2pm (Monday to Friday).

Successful applicants should receive payment on the day if the decision was made before 2pm (Monday to Friday).

Grant provision decisions will be made within seven working days, subject to the customer’s prompt submission of appropriate documentation.

Once approved, it could take up to ten working days for the customer to receive the grant provision goods.

Right to request a review

Applicants have the right to request a review of a decision relating to an emergency or grant provision application.

LWP decisions are not subject to statutory appeals processes and therefore the final decision remains with Central Bedfordshire Council.

If an applicant is not satisfied with the decision made on their emergency provision application, they can request a review of the decision verbally stating why they have requested a review. This review request must be made by the next working day of the decision. The application will be reviewed within two working days of the request. Reviews will be carried out by the ILP senior or team leader.

If an applicant is not satisfied with the decision made on their grant provision application, they can request a review of the decision in writing within 28 days of the decision. The review request must set out the reasons why the applicant has requested a review. The application will be reviewed within 21 days of the request and the applicant will be notified in writing. Reviews will be carried out by the ILP senior or team leader.

Complaints

Complaints relating to the way the applications are handled must be dealt with through the our complaints procedure.

Fraud

We are is committed to the prevention and detection of fraud within all its services. Should a fraudulent claim be identified, applicants may have committed an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.

Section 6 - Legal and regulatory framework 

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced the power for councils to operate a local scheme to replace the Social Fund discretionary elements (Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants). A local scheme is non-statutory and so councils have complete discretion about the type of scheme operated.

This policy has regard to legislation relating to the equal and fair treatment of applicants such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2010.

The policy and procedures set out protocols to prevent and detect potential cases of fraud as defined in the Fraud Act 2006.

Section 7 - Equality and Diversity 

An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out on this policy, the LWP application procedure and review procedure.

Processes, training and internal review protocols have been designed to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity.

To ensure that applicants have an equal opportunity to access the service and receive LWP where eligible, applicants’ diversity information will be gathered, monitored and reported.

Section 8 - Monitoring and reporting arrangements 

The LWP operational board will monitor the scheme’s performance on a monthly basis.

The application procedure sets out how day to day monitoring and management of the service will be carried out.

Section 9 -Training

Training on the policy and its procedures will be available within the Local Welfare Provision team. Consistency in approach will be maintained through mentoring and spot check review of decisions.

Section 10 - Responsibilities 

Responsibility for the implementation of this policy and its procedures and monitoring of the policy’s effectiveness resides with the Independent Living Prevention (ILP) – Team Leader.

Section 11 - Review 

This policy will be reviewed every three years.

Local Welfare Appeals Procedure

This procedure supports the Local Welfare Provision Policy approved in March 2020.

Emergency provision

If a customer is not happy with the decision made on their application, they can request a review of the decision stating why they think the decision is not correct. This review can be made immediately after the decision is delivered and must be made within 24 hours of the decision. The application will be reviewed within 2 working days of the request.

Given the short timescales, a request for a review must be made verbally. Reviews will be carried out by a team leader and, in the absence of a team leader then the manager will review.

The review decision is final.

Grant provision

If a customer is not happy with the decision made on their application, they can request a review of the decision. The review must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision setting out the reasons why they want a review. A decision will be made on the review within 21 days and the customer notified in writing.

The review will be carried out by the Team Leader and in the event of their absence, the manager. A decision will be made on the review within 21 days and the customer will be notified in writing. If the review is successful, the application will be processed to its full outcome within 7 working days.

Complaints

Dissatisfaction with a decision is not a matter for the complaints procedure and customers must be advised of their right to a review of the decision in line with the review procedure and how to make a request. If a customer makes a verbal representation about a decision on a crisis loan the requester’s details (including telephone number) and reasons for review should be noted down by the officer receiving the verbal feedback and referred on to the review process within 1 working day.

Complaints about the handling of the process of application or review will be dealt with through the Council’s complaints procedure within 5 working days. This includes where the applicant feels the process leading to the decision was flawed or that there was poor communication or a delay. Complaints purely about the decision should be dealt with via a review.