Vulnerable residents and war pensioners and widow(er)s could soon receive extra financial support paying their rent after South Hams District Council’s Executive granted approval for two policies which offer financial aid.

Last week the District Council who is responsible for managing Housing Benefit for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) discussed the first of two policies.

The Discretionary Housing Payment Policy details how the Council decides it will support the District’s vulnerable residents who are struggling with the cost of living.

In the South Hams, residents who receive the housing cost element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit are helped by the District Council through short term payments which can then be used to pay for rent or other housing costs.

Over the past year alone, £90,848 has already been spent to support 168 South Hams’ residents with £3,000 still existing for support.

The Council expect a similar amount to be available for the coming year which is increasingly needed due to the rise in help asked for by residents who are struggling to meet their housing costs.

When calculating how much housing benefit residents receive, in some instances district councils have the choice to decide how much income should be deducted from income they receive, such as the War Disablement Pension and War Widow(er)’s Pension.

When discussing the second item of the meeting, the War Pensions Disregard Policy, and the importance of supporting veterans and their spouses who have fought for their country, the Executive wholeheartedly agreed to recommend continuing to discount the full 100 per cent pension income.

Continuing to remove all this income from the assessment, means that pensioners receive more support when paying their Housing Benefit if Full Council agree the proposals at the next round of meetings on Thursday March 21.

Cllr Nicky Hopwood, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Cost of Living and Service Quality, said: “It is crucial that we support our residents, especially during the cost of living crisis.

It’s right that we do what we can with the money we have available and I’m pleased that the Executive have made this decision today.

“If agreed at Full Council towards the end of the month, this money will really help the people who have fought on our behalf and their husbands and wives who have suffered the loss of their loved ones, to keep us safe.

“Let’s now take a turn to help them when life is harder and give back.

“Both of these two aid policies support our residents, old and young, single and families.

“There is no script for who is struggling financially these days. Hopefully, this extra money will help give a bit of a relief from day-to-day difficulties and help to pay rent or some household bills. Let’s hope so.”

To find out more you can contact South Hams District council on 01803 861234 or call in to Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes TQ9 5NE.