UPDATE – 5th May 2017
A response has been received to the 4th April FOI request for an internal review. The council has availed itself of an extra 10 working days (within the law) to respond. Link here:
4th April 2017
See our recent blog post: Discretionary Housing Payments
As part of this Freedom of Information request, placed in February 2017, we asked whether Wirral Council had information to show that they had learned lessons from the Martin Morton / Department of Adult Social Services case a few years back – the implications of which were never fully explored or exposed to public view.
It appears they have not.
A quick calculation upon reading the above email reveals that despite a major change in the law on how Discretionary Housing Payments are assessed, Wirral Council “dropped the ball”, continued to use the old method of assessment – taking the care component of disability living allowance (DLA) into account – and were non-compliant for a period of 18 months.
For reasons only known to himself, Surjit Tour has chosen in his email not to include the crucial date of the Hardy v Sandwell case and of the change in law i.e. 30th March 2015.
It is highly likely that vulnerable tenants, families not qualifying, or in receipt of unlawfully reduced levels of DHP, will have been impacted adversely / fallen behind on their rent / been evicted by their landlords and possibly rendered homeless… as a direct result of Wirral Council’s unaddressed for 18 months departmental / council failure.
The following passage is an excerpt from our earlier post on Discretionary Housing Payments …………….
Here’s a link to some recent, publicly-released information detailing Audit Recommendations across five separate areas – including Discretionary Housing Payments.
First is a summary box, listing the completed areas covered during the Audit Recommendations Period; April 2015 to October 2016:
On completion, the public would now expect recommendations to be made in all 5 areas.
Whilst the area of elections was vital to the Alison Mountney tribunal case, another area – Discretionary Housing Payments – apparently received no recommendations at all. Furthermore, whilst 4 areas listed the actions taken in the Outcome column, the DHP Outcome box was left curiously empty. And further still, “no opinion provided” is the rather bland response to the crucial area of Organisational Risk.
Due to the glaring omissions, we’re left to wonder… what’s occurring here?
The above excerpt serves as a reminder of how senior officers and councillors may have failed to correctly audit and scrutinise the area of Discretionary Housing Payments.
In light of the leaked Surjit Tour email and the above inconsistencies, we have to assume now that there was an awareness of the change in law, and of this ongoing failure, but there was either a lack of will or a calculated attempt to plough on regardless, concealing the detail and true extent of the failure / malpractice from councillor scrutiny.
We will reiterate; Wirral citizens claiming this benefit are not scroungers, they rely upon the embattled Welfare State, and need this benefit to cover their rent payments and to prevent landlords from evicting them and their families out onto the streets.
FOI request update
After we received an evasive response to our initial request, a subsequent request for internal review has been placed:
Please follow its progress on www.whatdotheyknow.com