Cheshire East Emergency AssistanCE

Background

In 2013 the Department for Work and Pensions abolished crisis loans and community care grants and transferred funding and responsibility to the Council.  Following a public consultation, the Council introduced the current Emergency AssistanCE scheme. 

The scheme is designed to support vulnerable people facing immediate hardship, to prevent homelessness, and to keep families together. The scheme provides rent deposits
(not letting fees or rent in advance), essential furniture and essential white goods (recycled where possible) and emergency food (through local food banks were possible). Unlike the former crisis loans and community care grants it does not provide cash.

A decision will made by the Council if it is more appropriate to consider as a claim for Discretionary Housing Payment

The scheme has been reviewed following a consultation in 2017, results of the consultation and is intended to meet the following objectives: 

  • Help people to get into and stay in employment
  • Support people who are unable to access employment
  • Enable access to affordable housing
  • Develop self-reliance and financial responsibility
  • Provide a safety net to prevent crisis

It is available to those:

  • in receipt of state benefits or low paid work in exceptional cases
  • the Council considers to be vulnerable with one emergency award in a 12-month rolling period and one award to help secure a home or avoid homelessness in a 12-month rolling period
  • living in Cheshire East or with a connection to  the area if moving to it and will be means-tested 

Data collected under the scheme will be shared internally with other departments within the Council and with other Councils for safeguarding of children or for the prevention of fraud, adhering to the Data Protection Legislation and the Council’s data sharing protocols.

Eligibility criteria

The Emergency AssistanCE scheme is available to vulnerable people who are in receipt of state benefits. In exceptional circumstances awards may be allowed to those on a low wage. Those who do not qualify for benefits but have recourse to public funds and satisfy the tests under the Social Security Persons from Abroad legislation may still qualify for an award.  Vulnerability will be determined on a case by case basis.

Applicants will be required to work with the Council to find ways to resolve issues which have caused the need, and for those who are able to work, to find work or increases their hours or pay.  The terms of the conditionality will be agreed in advance and this will be followed up on to ensure compliance.

Awards will be means‐tested and only be made to those living within Cheshire East or have connections with, and are moving to, the area.

Only one award, from an applicant or their partner, may be made in a rolling twelve month period for either/both:

  • emergency crisis and/or
  • award to secure or retain a home, including help with housing costs

How to claim

An application can be made:

  • Complete and submit the online claim form  
  • If you do not have access to a computer or you are unable to make a claim online you can claim over the phone. Please  telephone 0300 123 5013 option 4 - opening times 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Face to face support will not normally be available. This is to ensure officers can make independent decisions, protected from potentially stressful or aggressive situations.

Any information and evidence which is deemed reasonably necessary will be requested to help the decision maker. This may include:

  • National Insurance number and proof of identity
  • benefits, income and capital
  • residence or potential residence
  • information about the crisis or expenditure

Where necessary, a visit to the applicant’s home may be undertaken as part of the verification process.

Decision‐making

When determining an award, the decision maker will consider:

  • the financial circumstances of the applicant and their family
  • the impact on the applicant if a payment is not awarded
  • the history of any previous applications and awards
  • any steps already taken to alleviate the issue
  • whether the applicant or a member of their household has caused or contributed to the need
  • the remaining budget available

The applicant will be told of the decision by telephone or in writing in:

  • one working day (usually the same day) for an emergency crisis (‘life and limb’)
  • ten working days for awards to secure or retain a home

For emergency cases, the applicant will be notified by telephone where a number is held.

The decision will confirm:

  • whether the application has been successful or not
  • the reasons for the decision
  • the award and how, to whom and when it will be paid
  • any responsibilities on the applicant
  • duty to repay the award if the applicant is subsequently found to have misrepresented or failed to disclose a material fact, or an error is made by the Council which the applicant could reasonably have known
  • details of the dispute process
  • signposting in respect of any further advice or support

If an application is found to be fraudulent, it will be subject to an investigation and may result in prosecution.

Review

There is no statutory right of appeal as the scheme is discretionary. A request for a review must be received, in writing, within one calendar month of the decision. In exceptional cases a late review may be accepted.

The request for a review must include the reasons why the applicant considers the decision should be revised. However, the following are not reasons why a review can be made:

  • the Emergency AssistanCE scheme budget is exhausted
  • more than one award has already been made in the previous twelve month period for either/both:
    • emergency crisis
    • award to secure or retain a home

A different decision maker will consider the review and notify the applicant, in writing, the results of the review within 10 working days.

If, following the review the applicant remains dissatisfied a review panel can consider the case, within 20 working days.  Their decision is final and binding. 

You can submit a review request using our Appeal Form

If the applicant follows the review procedure and still disagrees with the decision they can make a complaint under the Council's formal policy. 

For more information please visit our complaints and feedback page

Other help and advice

We have some fact sheets that offer other advice and help which you might find useful including telephone numbers for organisations, their address and website details.