Offender Discharge: Discretionary Payments
Posted by Natalie Pearson 05/02/20
As part of the discharge package, prison governors have the discretion to provide (offenders being released) a grant of £50. This money is to assist with their immediate housing cost on release, the money is not to be given to the offender but paid to the provider of the accommodation.
As many inmates are being released into the Approved Premises (AP) estate, AP’s request this payment from the releasing prison. The money, when received, goes towards their rent/service charge, in many cases it’s what prevents a resident from starting their stay at the AP in debt. In the case of the independent AP’s this payment/non-payment can have a significant financial impact over the course of a residents stay.
From the responses given at our recent meeting, existence of this grant was not widely known about and even those who knew about it spoke of the difficulties they experienced in trying to obtain it. Probation Officers (in the community and in prisons) and Offender Management Unit staff said they knew little about it, with some prison governors refusing to pay it.
The wording of the relevant PSI (PSI/2011-72) makes it difficult to understand:
At the Governor’s discretion, an additional payment of up to £50 may be paid directly to a genuine accommodation provider to help the prisoner secure a release address. The payment must not be made to the prisoner, or to a friend or relative of the prisoner.
Some governors do make the payment upon request. I have found that it is more helpful to speak to a Governor directly or by sending them an email.
I hope you find this helpful. Please share any success stories.
Colin Skyers is a Key Worker at West London Mission Katherine Price Hughes House.