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Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Getting Away from Doughnuts The 'Discretion' in Discretionary Housing Payments.

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Presentation on theme: "Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Getting Away from Doughnuts The 'Discretion' in Discretionary Housing Payments."— Presentation transcript:

1 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Getting Away from Doughnuts The 'Discretion' in Discretionary Housing Payments

2 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL

3 Todays Argument in a nut-shell: 2. That divergent assumptive worlds are problematic – three key reasons for this: 1. Problems of Function 2. Problems of Interpretations 3. Problems of Agency 1.The Problem of the Assumptive Worlds in the interpretation of DHPs 1.DWP + EWCA 2.Local Authorities

4 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL

5 Pot of money set aside by the DWP (£155 million pot) Dolled out to Local Authorities People Apply for DHPs to help them

6 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The Argument - Part One: The Two Assumptive Worlds

7 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL -Ken Young (1981) -A problem of the assumptive worlds of those initiating the task, and those carrying it out -Problems of implementation as referring to the centres failure to understand the values, perceptions, motivations and definitions of the situation held by the other body Assumptive Worlds Social Good Individual Assumptive Worlds

8 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Social Right To Housing Benefit (Article 1: Housing Benefit as a possession) Court of Appeal Local Authorities Two Assumptive Worlds The DWP

9 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Assumptive Worlds -Economic Policy (Thain, 1987; Dixon and Kouzmin, 2003) -Education (Marshall, 1985, 1988; Kirst et al, 2006; Humes, 2003; Bennett, 2001; Sacken and Medina, 1997; Finch and Gordon, 1989; Mazzeo, 2002) -Jurisprudence (Lacey, 1992; Kauffman, 2005) -Health (Marmor, 2013, Worth, 2001; Porter, 1989; Dopson and Fitzgerald, 2006) -Social Policy (Ham, 1980; Murray, 2006; Hill et al, 2009)

10 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The Assumptive World of: DWP + Courts

11 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The Coalition Government Position – Giant Sticking Plaster -Discretionary pot for [local authorities] to tailor to their local and individual needs (Steve Webb MP) -the key is in the title (Stephen Williams MP) -the best way to incorporate local issues on a case by case basis -local authorities are best placed to make these decisions according to their assessment of local needs and in order to best reflect their particular circumstances (Lord Freud)

12 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL R (MA & Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] EWCA Civ 13 Central to [the Secretary of States] thinking is the idea that there are certain groups of persons whose needs for assistance with payment of their rent are better dealt with by DHPs than [housing benefit]…I consider that they amount to an objective and reasonable justification of the scheme.

13 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL DHPs provide the greater flexibility required to deal with the changing nature of disability-related needs (para 74)… 'If read in isolation and without regard to the DHP scheme [the SSSC] plainly discriminates (para 39) against the disabled, so it necessary to analyse the scheme as a whole. (para 40)

14 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Local Authority Assumptive World

15 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The other world: Local Authorities -Behavioural and moralistic focus (ties into the responsibilisation agenda: Lister, 2014:12; McKee, 2012:855, Trnka and Trundle, 2014:3, DIY project of the self: Kelly, 2001:29) -Widespread attachment of conditionality (Robinson, 2013; Bowpitt et al, 2013; Jacobs and Manzi, 2013) -Potential influence of local politics (analysis of DWP data points to this) -Huge variation between localities - geographical element to the problem

16 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL

17 The present policy already gives consideration to the incentive and disincentive potential of Discretionary Housing Payment decisions, in particular with regard to recognising and encouraging responsible housing choices. We would also expect to take into account other aspects of a claimants behaviour, for instance in their engagement in activities to address worklessness or problematic and antisocial behaviour and in the steps they are taking to address debts and budgeting difficulties.

18 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL

19

20 An inherently local affair… -Analysis of DWP Discretionary Housing Payment spend data, aligned with predictor factors: -Level of under-occupation -Number of Cases -Spend on other reforms (Benefit Cap + LHA reforms) (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of- discretionary-housing-payments)

21 Average Level of Deduction (Bedroom Tax)

22 Measure combining level of under- occupation with the number of BT cases

23 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Role of Local Politics Variable Unstandardised Regression Coefficient Standardised Coefficient Average Bedroom Tax Deduction (£) * Total number of Bedroom Tax Cases * LHAReforms (£ Expenditure) * Benefit Cap (£ Expenditure) * No Overall Political Control vs Labour * Conservative vs Labour * Note: *p < 0.05.

24 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Argument Part One: Summary Two very different interpretations of the discretion in DHPs by the DWP and Court of Appeal compared to the Local Authorities

25 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The Argument - Part Two: The Problem of the Assumptive Worlds – Why it is a problem?

26 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Problems of Interpretation

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28 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Problems of Function

29 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Policy Delivery by Discretion Policy Delivery by Rules and Exemptions

30 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL Problems of Agency

31 Y ORK L AW S CHOOL The street-level bureaucrat as a scapegoat for policy failure is a familiar figure. (Young, 1981)


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