Homeless at Home Payment Scheme Policy Introduction WDBC has statutory duties to house homeless households – temporarily and permanently. The Council aims to ensure that housing secured is as suitable as possible and meets the housing needs of the individual household. Bed and Breakfast is currently used as temporary accommodation where there are no other alternatives. From April 2004, Local Authorities have no longer be able to use Bed and Breakfast to house households with children except for up to 6 weeks in an emergency. Separate to this, WDBC wishes to reduce the use of Bed and Breakfast for reasons of unsuitability and cost. The Homeless at Home Payment Scheme is to be used as an alternative to Bed and Breakfast to ensure more suitable temporary housing for the homeless household. It also increases value for money in the spending of the Temporary Accommodation budget. The scheme is funded using monies ring-fenced for addressing homelessness, from the OPDM. Policy Statement The Council will make Homeless at Home Payments available to ‘hosts’ to homeless households, as a means of paying for temporary accommodation in certain, clearly defined circumstances. The following principles will be followed: Each case will be dealt with individually and the circumstances of each homeless household considered on its merits and its views also taken into account. The Homeless at Home payment is not intended to be a long term payment. It is intended as an alternative to Bed and Breakfast and to allow time for other temporary accommodation to be found e.g Private Sector Leasing, hostel etc, or for an offer of permanent housing to be made. Where the homeless household is a single person under 25 evicted from the parental home, Homeless at Home payments will not be made to the ‘family’ from which they have been made homeless. Payment levels to the ‘host’ will be set by WDBC. Operation of the Scheme The scheme will operate in accordance with the following principles: Before any household can be considered for this scheme, all investigations must be completed and a duty for WDBC to house the homeless household must have been established. Homeless at Home is discretionary, it is not automatically available to all homeless households ‘at home’. It will only be used where the household cannot secure their own emergency accommodation and it serves as an alternative to Bed and Breakfast. All eligible households would keep their priority as homeless on the Housing Register while housed under the Homeless at Home scheme. ‘Rising’ points would be gained every 3 months as appropriate. Once a Homeless at Home arrangement is in place, regular contact will be maintained with both the host and the homeless household to ensure that the arrangement is working and to keep all parties informed of likely alternatives and timescales. Where the ‘host’ is in receipt of Housing Benefit, a Housing Benefit notification will be completed and the homeless household will need to take responsibility for any Non Dependent Deduction made from the host’s Housing Benefit. Where the ‘host’ is a single person household in receipt of the 25% discount on Council Tax, this discount will be lost for the time they have someone else living at their home. This temporary increase in Council Tax will need to be met by the host from the Homeless at Home income. On a monthly basis, the host must complete and sign a Monthly Declaration form and submit it to WDBC confirm their accommodation of the homeless household. This form will serve as the ‘invoice’ to confirm payment to be made. Payments will be calculated per night and paid monthly in arrears to the ‘host’. The payments are ‘disregarded’ as income for any host in receipt of benefits, they are to reimburse for heating, lighting and hot water and are not a rent payment. Records of all households housed under the scheme will be maintained for monitoring purposes Payment Levels Payments to host families will be calculated per night on the following basis: Single Person £10 Single Parent £15 Family £20 Payments can also be made under this scheme to a mortgage lender where an owner occupied property is being repossessed. Such cases will be considered on a case by case basis and must always represent value for money compared to the cost of Bed and Breakfast, to be considered at all. Payments are non-recoverable and no contribution is asked of the homeless household. Monitoring and Review A range of specific performance indicators to show the number and type of households housed and costs incurred will be prepared and reported on quarterly. Ongoing analysis of cost savings compared to using Bed and Breakfast will take place. The policy will be reviewed annually. Diversity and Equal Opportunities West Devon Borough Council is committed to reflecting the full diversity of the community it serves and to promoting equality of opportunity for everyone. This policy and all associated documentation and leaflets can be made available in large print, Braille, tape format or in any other languages, on request.
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