Welfare Reform Agony Aunt

Welcome to our Welfare Reform Agony Aunt web page. Our Inclusion Advisors work county-wide helping our tenants and customers with their welfare reform related issues including; under-occupancy, budgeting and employability advice amongst many, many more.

If you have a question related to Welfare Reform, please have a look at the Money Advice Service web site. Alternatively if you would like our advisors to answer a question please email inclusion.advisors@cornwallhousing.org.uk. Or to speak to the Inclusion Advisor for your area, please call 0300 1234 161 and ask to speak to:

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  • John Wiles – South-East area
  • Gary Harfoot – Mid area
  • Jacqueline Hickmore – North-East

"I am under-occupying and need help to pay my rent, are there any funds which can help me?"

You may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) through Cornwall Council.

If you are receiving Housing Benefit payments that are less than your rent payments and need help to cover the shortfall there is a limited amount of money available to help you.

If an award is granted, you will usually receive the funds on the following Monday, so it is best to apply as soon as possible.

You can apply online via the Cornwall Council website, www.cornwall.gov.uk, or call the benefits advice line on 0300 1234 121. If you receive an award, the team will expect you to work with them to find long term solutions to your financial problems.

Contact the Inclusion Advisor in your area for more information about Discretionary Housing Payments, or if you have a question for the Welfare Reform Agony Aunt.

"My partner and I are the only occupants living in my two-bedroom Cornwall Council property. My partner is disabled and we need separate bedrooms. Why do we not qualify for an additional bedroom because of this?"

You may be awarded an extra room if:

  • A child is disabled and cannot share a room with another child. They must be entitled to the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at either the high or middle rate. Evidence will be required.
  • An overnight non-resident carer stays on a regular basis. The disabled person must be receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at either the middle or high rate or receiving Personal Independent payments in daily living component. Evidence will be required.
  • If you are a foster parent (a qualifying parent or carer) you will qualify for one additional bedroom. Evidence will be required.

As your circumstances are different from those above you will still have a 14% under-occupancy charge to pay. However, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) which if successful may be able to cover the under-occupation charge on a temporary basis.

DHP is an independent scheme administered by the Housing Benefit department. DHP is a limited pot of money given to the council and funded by Central Government. Since this pot is limited not everyone will qualify. Cornwall Council has a DHP policy to follow when making their decision as to whether you will receive the temporary help. If your DHP request is refused then you can ask for this to be looked at again. DHP’s do not carry appeal rights however you can request a reconsideration detailing your reasons why you disagree with the decision. Your Inclusion Advisor can advise on the completion of a DHP form,  and advise about writing a reconsideration request if necessary.  In some circumstances they may be able to help you complete a form either over the telephone or they can visit you in your home.

You can apply for DHP online or contact the council’s Assessment Team on 0300 1234 121.

To speak to the Inclusion Advisor for your area, please call 0300 1234 161 and ask to speak to:

  • John Wiles – South-East area
  • Gary Harfoot – Mid area
  • Jacqueline Hickmore – North-East

inclusion.advisors@cornwallhousing.org.uk