Payment from the exceptional hardship fund An Exceptional Hardship Fund has been set up to ensure that, where there is exceptional need, extra help towards your Council Tax may be awarded North Devon Council recognises that the circumstances of some of our customers means that further help may be necessary. The fund will be used in a supportive and reactive way to allow for short-term difficulties as set out in the council’s Policy. Customers wishing to apply for additional support must complete the application form and any additional award will be made in line with the Council Tax Exceptional Hardship Policy. This fund is limited and is for those experiencing short-term exceptional hardship as a result of having to pay towards their Council Tax. The Benefits team will decide whether or not to make an Exceptional Hardship Fund award, and the amount of any award. What sort of things will you take into consideration when deciding whether or not an award of Exceptional Hardship awards can be made? The shortfall between Council Tax Reduction (CTR) and Council Tax liability The steps taken by the customer to reduce their Council Tax liability Changing payment methods - making arrangements to pay their Council Tax in 12 monthly instalments or setting alternative payment arrangements in order to make them affordable Ensuring that all discounts, exemptions and reductions are granted, for example Single Occupier Discount Steps taken by the customer to establish whether they are entitled to other welfare benefits Steps taken by the customer in considering and identifying where possible the most economical tariffs for supply of utilities If a Discretionary Housing Payment has already been awarded to meet a shortfall in rent The personal circumstances, age and medical circumstances (including ill health and disabilities) of the customer, their partner, dependents and any other occupants of the customer’s household The difficulty experienced by the customer, which prohibits them from being able to meet their Council Tax liability, and the length of time this difficulty will exist Shortfalls due to non-dependent residents The income and expenditure of the customer, their partner and any dependants or other occupants of the customer’s home How reasonable expenditure exceeds income That all income may be taken into account, including those which are disregarded when awarding CTR Any savings or capital that might be held by the customer or their partner Other debts outstanding for the customer and their partner (see below) Whether the customer has already accessed or is engaging for assistance with budgeting and financial/debt management advice. An Exceptional Hardship Fund award may not be made until the customer has accepted assistance either from the Council or third party, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or similar organisations, to enable them to manage their finances more effectively, including the termination of non essential expenditure. Proof of other financial commitments will be required The exceptional nature of the customer and/or their family’s circumstances that impact on finances. Receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance and disability benefits will not in themselves be considered ‘exceptional’ The amount available in the Exceptional Hardship Fund at the time of the application The list is not exhaustive and other relevant factors and special circumstances will be considered. An award from the Exceptional Hardship Fund does not guarantee that a further award will be made at a later date, even if the customer’s circumstances have not changed. Any Exceptional Hardship Fund award may be less than the difference between the Council Tax liability and the amount of CTR paid If my application is successful, how much will I get and for how long? Each application will be considered on its own merits. In the case of a successful application, the amount of award and the length of award will be decided on an individual basis. The funding is subject to an annual cash limit, and therefore it is likely that any award of Exceptional Hardship will only be awarded for a short term while you are trying to resolve the difficulties you are experiencing. Who can apply for an award of Exceptional Hardship Payment? The person who claimed CTR. How do I apply for an award of Exceptional Hardship Fund award? You will need to complete this application form. Apply for Exceptional Hardship Fund What happens then? The council will write to you and let you know of their decision. If your application is successful, you will be advised of the requirement for you to advise the council of any future changes in circumstance that may be relevant to the award of Exceptional Hardship payment. What happens if I apply and am not happy about the outcome of my application? If you are not happy with a decision, you can write to the council, giving your reasons and/or providing further/additional information, at which time the decision will be looked at again.