Discretionary Support Scheme

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The purpose of the Discretionary Support Scheme is to provide a local solution to replace elements of the Social Fund which are no longer administered by the Department of Works & Pensions, specifically Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses.

The scheme will issue awards for two types of need, to people who require short term Emergency Support and to people who require Community Support to establish or maintain a home independently in the community.

The scheme will:

  • assist vulnerable people in meeting their needs for subsistence or financial support where they are unable to meet their immediate short term needs or where they require support to maintain their independence within the community.
  • meet the particular needs of Halton’s most vulnerable residents.
  • ensure that there is high quality, consistent decision making including appropriate timescales.
  • treat each applicant fairly and equitably.
  • not cover those who are deemed to have sufficient income and savings.
  • not cover needs which are more appropriately addressed by other discretionary funds or benefits. Specifically, it will not meet needs that should be addressed by Council Tax Reduction schemes, Discretionary Housing Payments or Department of Works and Pensions provision.
  • give consideration to the nature, extent and urgency of the need in every individual case.
  • not issue cash payments.


Emergency Support

Awards may be made to assist with immediate short-term needs due to a circumstance that presents a serious risk to the health or safety of the claimant or their family and the award is the only way to prevent this. Awards will normally be made for immediate essential day to day living expenses only and will usually be made by way of a parcel delivered direct to the customer from the supplier, for items such as:

  • Essential food items
  • Essential toiletries
  • Essential household items 
  • Essential Fuel Awards
  • There will be no cash payments

Community Support

Awards may be made to assist vulnerable people in returning to or remaining in the community or, to ease exceptional pressure on the family. Examples include:

  • Moving out of institutional or residential care or
  • Moving to more suitable accommodation or,
  • Under exceptional pressure or,
  • Setting up home as a part of a resettlement programme and
  • The disallowance of the Community Support award would significantly impede on the applicant’s continued or potential independence in the community.

Awards will normally be made by way of payment direct to supplier for items such as:

  • Beds and Bedding
  • Kitchen equipment 
  • Seating
  • Removal expenses
  • Whilst the types of awards listed above are not exhaustive there are some forms of support that will not be provided.  
  • There will be no cash payments

There will normally be a limit on applications for the Discretionary Support Scheme to a maximum of two in any twelve month rolling period, although exceptions may apply.

Each application will be treated on an individual basis and the award system will not require applicants to repay any awards made to them. Once the scheme fund has been exhausted for the respective financial year, there will be no further awards.
PLEASE NOTE: before an award can be made, the applicant will have to meet the Eligibility Criteria standards first and will be required to demonstrate that their need cannot be met by any other source. This may mean asking for help directly from other agencies or other parts of the council before continuing with an application. Details of where help has been sought should be included on the application form.

Eligibility Criteria for Emergency Support

  • Halton resident
  • Aged 16 +
  • Have no alternative forms of help and,
  • Not have had 2 previous awards in the last 12 months and the award is,
  • The only way of preventing risk to health or safety

Eligibility Criteria for Community Support

  • Halton resident
  • Aged 16 +
  • In receipt or imminent receipt of an income-related benefit, and
  • No funds to meet the need themselves and,
  • There are no other alternative sources of help and,
  • Not have had 2 previous awards in the last 12 months and the claimant is 
  • Moving out of institutional or residential care or,
  • Moving to more suitable accommodation or,
  • Under exceptional pressure or,
  • Setting up home as a part of a resettlement programme

What evidence do you need?

  • Anything that we think is reasonable to support your application.

How to Apply

To apply for Emergency Support or Community Support you can call the Discretionary Support Team from 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4:30pm on a Friday on 0800 952 0016 which is a Freephone number from landlines. Alternatively you can email Discretionary.Support@halton.gov.uk for advice.

Rights of Review

The claimant or their authorised representative will have the right to request that the decision be reviewed. Reasons for a review of a decision could include:

  • Application refused
  • Method of payment
  • Value of award

When requesting a review of a decision, the applicant will be expected to provide reasons why they feel the original decision should be reviewed, and will need to provide additional information to support the request if appropriate. To request a review of your decision please email Discretionary.Support@halton.gov.uk.