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Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP)

HELP is a discretionary scheme offering local welfare assistance including:

  • support for exceptional needs
  • limited payments for emergency funding in a crisis or;
  • to help people moving out of care

Cheshire West and Chester Council will decide whether support is needed and whether an award can be made to supplement the support it provides or commissions.

Any payments which are made are conditional upon the acceptance of any support which Cheshire West and Chester Council considers that you need. All awards are subject to a means test. We will also include in the calculation any income which is available to you, including income which we would normally ignore for the purposes of processing your claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction.

Funding will be made on a one off basis, and will be restricted to one payment in any 12 month period. Normally payments will be restricted to provide help with food vouchers or recycled goods.

Where to find help

How to claim

If you want to discuss making an application contac us below.

Please do not call into our offices to make a claim, as the frontline staff do not have access to details of the scheme and will not be able to advise you.

When you make a claim, you will need to let us have a telephone number so we can speak to you urgently to discuss your application.

Who is eligible to claim

  • You should be resident in the Cheshire West and Chester area.
  • You will be leaving care or be experiencing an emergency which you need help with.
  • You must agree to accept any support which is offered.
  • You 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 (from 2014).
  • You 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

In addition, prisoners on discharge from prison will also be entitled to help in setting up home only, providing they meet the other criteria and accept the support which is offered.

The Local Authority may also deem any other applicant as vulnerable due to their individual circumstances, but will only do so in rare and exceptional cases.

The questions asked

You will be asked questions to establish:

  • Whether you satisfy the criteria
  • Whether you are classed as vulnerable
  • Whether any funds are available to you
  • What support you have already
  • Whether there are any other funds which are available. Any other funds available to you should be accessed before an application is made. This may include personal funds or borrowings, charitable or public funding.

Evidence needed

You may be asked for any information and evidence we need to determine your eligibility and to help us to decide if an award can be made.

The request can be made prior to the processing of a claim, or proof of any purchases may be requested after any payment is made.

Unless proof is already held by the Council, evidence of the following will be required:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Photograph on application
  • Identity, benefits, other income and capital
  • Residence
  • Proof of the crisis
  • Proof of expenditure
  • Any other evidence that we ask for to support the application

Notifying you of our decision

We will contact you as quickly as we can with the outcome of your application. This will be done by text message, e mail, telephone or letter, with regard to the fastest and most appropriate method in the circumstances.

What you can do if you don't agree with our decision

The scheme is discretionary and there is no legislative right of appeal. You may request a review if you disagree with the award.

However there is no right to a review if the HELP payment has been refused because:

  • The HELP budget is exhausted. Funds will be monitored on a monthly basis and will be declined if the monthly limit is reached.
  • You have applied within the previous 12 months and have been awarded a payment (by Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Department for Works and Pensions or any other Local Authority).
  • You do not fall into a vulnerable group
  • You fail to accept the support which is being offered to you.

A request for a review must be made in writing within one calendar month of the HELP decision notification. The request should include details of why you consider that the decision should be revised, but if they are for the reasons listed above the review will not be considered.

The request will be reviewed by a more senior officer who will confirm the outcome of the review in writing, usually within one calendar month of the request being received.

The decision is final and binding although any complaints regarding the way the application process has been dealt with should be made in writing to Cheshire West and Chester’s corporate complaints team.

  • Customer Relations Team, Cheshire West and Chester Council, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE

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