South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

6.3 Section 17 Payments Potentially Eligible for Crisis Support

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter identifies the criteria with regard to obtaining a Crisis Support loan which is differentiated from other section 17 payments.


Contents

  1. Background
  2. Claims Process
  3. What Happens if a Crisis Support Application is Turned Down?
  4. Crisis Support Appeals
  5. Timescale for Processing Applications
  6. Who is the Claimant for Crisis Support?
  7. Items We Can Generally Consider Under Crisis Support
  8. Items Not Eligible for Crisis Support
  9. Food Parcels
  10. Crisis Support Team Contact Numbers

    Appendix 1: Crisis Support Application Form


1. Background

It is important that the Council uses funding in the most efficient way in order to safeguard public funds particularly in the current financial climate.

A number of items which are currently paid for from the Section 17 budget may be eligible for a Crisis Support Payment. Details of these items are provided below. The list is not exhaustive and there may be the odd unusual item that you need to contact the Crisis Support Team about to see whether there is potential for the item to be considered under Crisis Support. Getting payment from the Crisis Support fund should be the first option for funding as opposed to Section 17. It is likely that finance under Section 17 will be refused if there has been no attempt to apply for funding from Crisis Support.


2. Claims Process

You will need to complete an online Crisis Support application-through the Council’s website. (See Appendix 1: Crisis Support Application Form) Notes on claim completion are attached separately. A member of the Crisis Support Team may contact you for further information in order to make a decision.

The decision whether to make an award will be made by the Crisis Support Team. Awards may not be made where there is alternative funding such as a Short Term Benefit Advance from the Job Centre or in some circumstances where the customer has capital or income that can be used. Awards would not normally be made if the need is not considered essential or in some cases where preventative action has not been taken.


3. What Happens if a Crisis Support Application is Turned Down?

The Crisis Support Officer making the decision will liaise with the Children’s Services caseworker to explain the reason for decision and any alternatives that may be appropriate such as approaching the Job Centre for a benefit advance.

If the caseworker feels that funding is still required, then he/she should discuss the outcome of the Crisis Support application with their line manager and look at whether it is appropriate to make a payment out of the Children’s services budget. If it is decided to do so the Children’s Services Finance Team will need to be consulted and authorisation from your line manager for the Section 17 Payment will need to be recorded on PARIS as is the requirement now.


4. Crisis Support Appeals

There is a Crisis Support appeals process and you may decide to make an appeal against the decision not to award a Crisis Support Payment. Appeals are considered by the Appeals Team within Revenues and Benefits. If you would like to discuss a particular Crisis Support decision before deciding whether to make an appeal on behalf of your client you can contact either a member of the Crisis Support Team or the Appeals Team. Phone numbers at the bottom of the page. Appeals need to be made in writing (email acceptable) and received within one month of the Crisis Support decision being notified.


5. Timescale for Processing Applications

An application to cover an emergency need will generally be considered within 24 hours of the application being received or 24 hours of any supporting evidence being provided, whichever is later.

Less urgent cases would normally be considered within 3 to 5 working days of the application being received or the date that the supporting evidence is received, whichever is later.

There may be occasions when it is not possible to meet these deadlines but this would generally be unusual.


6. Who is the Claimant for Crisis Support?

A child cannot claim a Crisis Support Payment and so the Crisis Support applicant will need to be an adult.

For example:

  • For children who live in their parent(s) household, the parent will be the Crisis Support applicant;
  • Where a child is to be placed with a relative/family friend as an alternative to being “looked after” and the need has arisen in order to enable this placement then the relative/family friend where the child will be placed will be the Crisis Support applicant. In these circumstances the income/capital of the relative/family friend will not normally be taken into account;
  • If the need is for drug testing/counselling or similar for an adult as part of legal proceedings then the adult who is required to undergo these will be the Crisis support applicant;
  • Care Leavers will no longer be considered as “children” and a claim can be made in their name.


7. Items We Can Generally Consider Under Crisis Support

Rent in Advance and Deposits

For customers not currently in receipt of Housing Benefit only. Those in receipt of Housing Benefit should apply for help through Discretionary Housing Payment.

Crisis Support can pay where the move is essential or the customer is setting up home for the first time and the accommodation is affordable.

EVIDENCE REQUIRED:

  1. Letter from landlord confirming amounts required and monthly rent liability;
  2. Up to date proof of capital: i.e. statements for all accounts held including savings accounts, ISA’s, bank accounts, Post office accounts, building society accounts;
  3. We will look at affordability, so please consider Local Housing Allowance applicable as an award would not generally be made for properties in the private sector with a rent more than 10% above the applicable local housing allowance rates for the household. Local Housing Allowance rates can be viewed on the Council’s website and there is also a link so that you can work out which Local Housing Allowance rate would apply to your client’s household. If you are in doubt then you can talk to a member of the Crisis Support Team;
  4. You should include on the Crisis Support application reasons for the move so the CS Officer can make a decision on whether the move is necessary.

Essential items of furniture and white goods

Crisis Support will look at covering the cost of essential items of furniture.

EVIDENCE REQUIRED:

  1. Up to date proof of capital for the child’s parent(s) where the child is part of their household and it is that household who has a need: i.e. statements for all accounts showing current balances. Where a child is being placed with a friend or relative as part of intervention work through Children’s Services and furniture is required to place the child with the friend/relative the capital of the friend/relative will not be taken into account;
  2. There should be information on the Crisis Support application giving the reasons why the item is required.

Removal and storage costs where the need has arisen out of an essential move

EVIDENCE REQUIRED:

  1. Up to date proof of capital: i.e. statements for all accounts showing current balances;
  2. The application form should be completed with an explanation of why the need has arisen;
  3. 3 Quotes should be obtained and supplied in support of the application. If the need is to be paid by Children’s Services initially and claimed back through Crisis Support then 3 quotes should be obtained by Children’s Services before a payment is made and unless there are good reasons why this should not be the case, the cheapest quote should be paid. Where 3 quotes have not been obtained then the Crisis Support application may be declined.

Some transport costs considered essential

One off or ongoing transport costs can be considered. Where a need is ongoing e.g. regular transport for a child to school by taxi then any Crisis Support Award would be for a maximum of 3 months initially. If the need continues after the initial award period then a new Crisis Support application would need to be made at the point that the initial award period expires. The Crisis Support team will contact the case worker to establish what action is being taken to make alternative arrangements and why it is considered that there is a longer term need. The Crisis Support Officer will look at this information in deciding whether to make a second award.

EVIDENCE REQUIRED:

  1. Details of the reason for the need should be included on the claim form;
  2. Evidence of the cost of the transport. Where the method of transport is taxi then 3 quotes should be obtained. The cheapest quote would generally be paid if an award is made.

Childcare Costs/Respite for disabled Children

The Crisis Support Team will consider Childcare costs or similar for disabled children (e.g. day care, clubs/activities, nursery fees) where it is considered necessary for the welfare of the child or to provide essential respite for the parents/guardians in the case of a disabled child. As with ongoing transport costs the initial award will be for a maximum of 3 months. If the need continues thereafter a new Crisis Support application will need to be made and the Crisis Support Officer will discuss with the caseworker whether there are any alternatives, whether any action is being taken to alleviate the need and the reasons why the need is continuing.

EVIDENCE REQUIRED:

  1. Proof of the cost of the fees.

Emergency Need: Clothing, food, fuel and living expenses

Awards for these items can be considered in emergency one off situations. Where the need is for the whole of the child’s household then the Crisis Support Officer will look at available income and capital and dates of next benefit payments as part of the decision making process.

Where the need has arisen due to the customer waiting for a new claim, made through the Job Centre, to be processed then the Crisis Support Team will refer the customer to the Job Centre for a short term benefit advance. A Crisis Support payment would not be made in this circumstance.

A Crisis Support payment will not be made for daily living expenses where the need is due to benefit sanctions. Again these customers will be referred to the Job Centre to apply for a hardship payment.

Please note that where there is a need for food only, you should order a food parcel using the Anode referral form as is the case now.

Drug/Alcohol Testing /Counselling Fees or similar

A Crisis Support award can be considered for these where attendance/compliance is a requirement of a court case/legal proceedings.


8. Items Not Eligible for Crisis Support

  • Holidays;
  • Non-essential equipment e.g. games consoles;
  • Damage caused by tenants to rented properties;
  • Repairs to rented properties;
  • Admin type costs e.g. birth certificates, CRB checks;
  • Kennel fees for pets;
  • Ongoing living expenses or regular support payments.

The lists of eligible and ineligible items are not exhaustive. If you need advice about potential eligibility for Crisis Support then please contact one of the Crisis Support Team.


9. Food Parcels

You can continue to order food parcels outside of the Crisis Support scheme using the Anode referral system. If the need is solely for food then you do not need to do a Crisis Support application as well as the Anode referral.


10. Crisis Support Team Contact Numbers

Kane Mitchell EXT: 8529
Richard Simmons EXT: 7168
Ros Avery - new member of the team contact number TBA

The above staff can assist with Crisis Support queries or questions about completing the application form.

Other Contacts

Heather Vallance (Appeals Team) EXT: 7567
Hannah Miles (Appeals Team) EXT: 7548
Clive Hayward (Appeals Team EXT: 7567

Clive, Heather and Hannah deal with Crisis Support appeals as well as Discretionary Housing Payments.


Appendix 1: Crisis Support Application Form

Click here to view Appendix 1: Crisis Support Application Form

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