1 Purpose of the fund
1.1 The Government has announced a number of support schemes to help the most vulnerable with the increased cost of living. These schemes are for those who are in receipt of means tested benefits.
1.2 Whilst it is recognised that those on the lowest incomes need financial support, there is a new group of people emerging who are being pushed into hardship due to the increased energy costs. These are households who are in work and typically earning less than the UK average earnings. These households are not eligible for the targeted government support.
1.3 The purpose of the Working Households Fund, therefore, is to support Dartford working households who are just above the benefit thresholds and who are struggling with the increased cost of living.
2 Eligibility criteria
It is for the Council to identify which households are in most need of support and apply its discretion when identifying eligibility.
2.1 The following are excluded from applying for this Fund as they are eligible for Government support:
- Pensioners –pensioners are entitled to the additional £300 top-up of their winter fuel allowance. Those pensioners on means tested benefits will also be entitled to the £650 cost of living payment. Those pensioners on housing benefit and/or in receipt of Council Tax Support, have also received £100 through the Government’s Household Support Fund.
- Those eligible for Disability benefits – those eligible for disability benefits are entitled to the £150 disability cost of living payment. If they are on a low income, they may also be entitled to the £650 cost of living payment.
- Those eligible for Means tested benefits – those eligible for the following means tested benefits will be entitled to the £650 cost of living payment:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (ESA)
- Income support
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
2.2 The following eligibility criteria must be met to receive a Working Households Fund grant:
- The applicant/joint applicants must be liable for Council Tax in a property in bands A to D;
- The property must be their sole or main residence;
- The household annual income before tax and National Insurance for a single applicant must be below £31,447 (the average UK earnings) and for joint applicants, must be below £62,894. These figures exclude child benefit;
- The household must not have combined savings of more than £3,000 at the date of the application;
- The applicant/joint applicants must not be in receipt of housing benefit, Council Tax Reduction or fall into one of the exempt categories listed at section 2.1 above.
3. Award levels
3.1 A grant of £100 will be awarded to qualifying households.
3.2 Only one grant will be payable per household.
4. Application process
4.1 Applications are to be submitted via the Council’s online application process using the following link www.dartford.gov.uk/grant. Once an application has been submitted, the applicant/joint applicants will receive an email confirming receipt of the application.
4.2 Where an applicant is unable to complete the form online, they can phone a dedicated grant number (01322 343244) to speak to an officer who will help them complete an online application.
4.3 The applicant will be required to submit a copy payslip (for a joint application, payslips for both applicants are required) and a copy of their latest bank statement covering at least one month (if a joint application with separate bank accounts, both applicants will need to submit copy statements). Applicants should have this information ready to upload on the online application form.
4.4 On receipt of the application, the Council’s Revenues and Benefits Team will check the property against their records to verify if the applicant(s) is claiming housing benefit or Council Tax Reduction.
4.5 Applications will be assessed by a ‘grants’ team’, to verify that the applicant/joint applicants meet the eligibility criteria as set out at section 2.2 above. Applications will be assessed in the order they are received and successful applications will be paid within 10 working days’ of approval.
4.6 In all cases, the applicant/joint applicants will be required to make a declaration confirming that they have completed the application form truthfully.
4.7 The Council is under a duty to protect public money. If it is established that a grant payment has been made incorrectly due to error, misrepresentation, or incorrect information being provided to the Council, the Council will seek to recover the amount paid. The Council will consider taking legal proceedings against individuals who apply for grants they are not entitled to.
5.1 Once the grant application has been approved, payment will be made by way of a Post Office voucher. A letter will be sent to the applicant/joint applicants with a bar code. They can then take this letter to the Post Office, together with a form of ID, to collect their £100 grant.
5.2 Alternative payment arrangements will be made for anyone who is unable to collect their payment from the Post Office.
6. Discretionary Panel
6.1 If an application is rejected, the applicant/joint applicants can write to the Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services setting out why they feel their application should be approved. This will then be considered by a Discretionary Panel, comprising the Chief Officer & Director of Corporate Services, the Leader of the Council and the Deputy Leader of the Council.
7. Data Protection and use of data
7.1 All information and data provided by applicants will be retained until the Fund has been closed and audited, at which stage, the information and data will be securely destroyed.