Help Scheme

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HELP (Help in Emergencies for Local People) Scheme
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Background
In April 2013, funding for Social Fund Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants transferred from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to local authorities. Cheshire West and Chester Council introduced a new scheme called HELP to deliver this new responsibility. The HELP scheme provides emergency assistance for vulnerable residents, or for people moving out of care, where they meet the criteria of the scheme.

The HELP Scheme Provision
The scheme provides an immediate assessment of need, which is normally completed by telephone, either directly with the customer or with their support worker. If the applicant meets the scheme criteria they are offered a solution, with 90% of all applicants receiving a decision within 24 hours. In the first four months of the scheme (April to July 2013) the team has dealt with 460 applications of which 324 (70%) have been awarded assistance under the scheme.
The solutions offered include :-
food bank vouchers, card payments for food or other items, and reconditioned furniture. Other payments have included removal costs, fuel payments, baby milk
and nappies, travel to work costs, and work clothing.

Where an applicant does not meet the scheme criteria and cannot receive a payment, customers are advised on how to access other help which is available in their locality. In some cases, other external funding has been applied for on behalf of applicants.

Where a person requires further support, they are visited at home to identify any additional needs. Through close partnership working, the most appropriate help for the individual and their family can be provided.

Local Links
HELP are keen to support local charities and have donated £5,000 each to two food bank
providers. This is to help them continue the excellent work they are doing and in recognition of the fact that HELP utilises their provision as part of our scheme.
Our reconditioned furniture includes a warranty and is provided by Changing Lives in Cheshire (CLiC), which links a consortium of charities across Cheshire. They will deliver and install the goods that they supply.
Customer feedback for both of these services has been excellent.

Criteria

  • Applicants should be resident in the Cheshire West and Chester area.
  • They will be leaving care or be experiencing an emergency which they need help with.
  • They must agree to accept any support which is offered.
  • They will normally be a householder and in receipt of housing related financial support in the form of Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Universal Credit or housing related Pension Credit.
  • They must also be classed as vulnerable. Cheshire West and Chester Council have defined "vulnerable" for the purposes of the scheme as an individual who is:
  • Physically and/or mentally impaired and in receipt of the severe or enhanced
  • disability premiums
  • In receipt of the middle or high rate of Disability Living Allowance (either Care or
  • Mobility component) or the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payments
  • (either Daily Living or Mobility component)
  • Has a mental impairment exemption for council tax
  • The qualifying age for state pension credit
  • Terminally ill
  • Individuals who have a dependent child living with them on a permanent basis, and
  • the carer of that child qualifies for child benefit
  • Young people aged 16 to 18
  • People who are leaving care or any other type of supported provision
  • Prisoners on discharge from prison are entitled to help in setting up home, providing that they meet the other criteria and accept the support which is offered.

Cheshire West and Chester has an overriding discretion, which means that it can consider exceptions to these criteria in exceptional circumstances. Support which is offered includes employment mentoring to provide additional support to move applicants into work and training. This is a key priority of the scheme, in addition to supporting customers with other changes to improve their financial outlook.

How to Apply
Customers can apply for HELP by:
Telephoning: 0300 123 7065 (Monday — Friday, 9am — 5pm)
Application form to: HELP Scheme, PO Box 187, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH34 9DB
E mail: help@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
Website: http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/benefits_and_grants/help.aspx