Response to Dept for Communities Consultation on Changes to the Discretionary Support Scheme

Activity: Other


This response sets out our concerns over the inadequacy of the NI budget that has had a consequential and devastating impact on the DS budget. We identify how this will impact on DfC's ability to discharge its statutory duties. We acknowledge the difficult position DfC finds itself in but question the statutory basis of the new policy to limit repeat DS awards to 24 instead of 12 months. We emphasise that this cannot become an embedded policy, especially if budget increases are made. We urge the Department to disaggregate its data to specifically monitor the impact of these changes on lone parents and larger families. We recommend consideration of changing the debt thresholds in situations where household income is more able to sustain that debt. We also recommend that DfC publishes new guidance that will be used to distinguish between basic and essential needs.
Period11 Aug 2023