Utility Security Deposits

Overview

A supplement may be provided to assist recipients of income, hardship, and disability assistance with the cost of securing service for electricity or natural gas.  This supplement is available under the Employment and Assistance Regulation and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation.

Policy

Effective: January 8, 2007

A utility security deposit may be provided when a utility provider of electricity or natural gas services requires a security deposit to enable connection or prevent disconnection of electricity or natural gas services and, when there are no alternative methods for enabling connection or preventing disconnection of the service.  The amount must be the minimum amount required by the utility provider.  The ministry may provide a utility security deposit to or for a family unit that is eligible for income assistance, hardship assistance, or disability assistance if all of the following conditions are met:
 

  • the utility security deposit is necessary to enable the family unit to obtain the services of the electricity or natural gas utility.
  • the recipient agrees to repay the amount paid under this section, and
  • the utility security deposit is the minimum amount required by the utility provider to secure utility services.

The ministry does not assume liability or legal responsibility for utilities payments or for any breach of utilities agreements.

Utility security deposit interest is not recoverable, nor is it considered income.

Effective: January 8, 2007

There are no limits to the number of utility security deposits which can be issued.  The amount of the supplement is the minimum amount required by the utility provider as a security deposit.  Some providers require a higher deposit if a recipient does not wish to enrol in an equal payment plan.  The ministry will only pay the minimum amount required by the utility provider. 

A utility security deposit may not be required and a utility security deposit should not be issued, if there is an alternative method for enabling access or preventing disconnection.  For example BC Hydro will waive the utilities security deposit if the applicant enrols in the “equal billing” or “Pay-As-You-Go” programs. 

A recipient may be provided with a utility security deposit for both electricity and natural gas concurrently.

A utility security deposit is issued only for security deposits required by the utility provider and not for arrears in payment or connection fees.  See crisis supplement for arrears and reconnection utility costs.  [see Related Links – Crisis Supplement]

Effective: January 8, 2007

If a recipient has been issued a utility security deposit for a provider and that utility security deposit has not been repaid, and the recipient requests an additional utility security deposit, the recipient’s assistance will be administered (i.e., the ministry will make ongoing payments directly to the utility provider on behalf of the recipient). 

Where more than one utility security deposit is issued to the same utilities provider, Supervisor approval must be noted on the case.

Effective: January 8, 2007

Recipients to whom utility security deposits are issued must sign a Repayment Agreement/Acknowledgement of Debt (Repayable) (HR2663A).  Utility security deposits issued under these circumstances that are not repaid in a lump sum, must be recovered through monthly cheque reductions of $20 or more.  Reduction starts on the second cheque issue after the utility security deposit is issued.  The recovery amount on outstanding utility security deposits is $20 per month, or more with the recipient's consent.  If the recipient leaves assistance, repayment must be made until the debt is recovered.

[For more information on repayment agreements, see Related Links – Recoveries – Policy – Repayment Agreements – Repayable Benefits by Deduction from Ongoing Assistance.]

[For more information on repayment of utilities security deposit supplements, see Related Links – Recoveries.]

[For Repayment Agreement/Acknowledgement of Debt (Repayable) (HR2663A), see Forms and Letters.]

Procedures

Effective: January 8, 2007

To establish whether a recipient is eligible for a utility security deposit, run the Assisted Eligibility tool:
 

  1. Review request with recipient.
  2. Determine if the situation meets the requirement for a utility security deposit, as set out in policy.
  3. Contact the utility service provider and confirm the circumstances with the utility provider and options available to the recipient.
  4. Determine if the recipient is eligible for the “pay-as-you-go” plan or if the recipient can be set up on direct payment which may negate the need for a utility security deposit.
  5. Recipients will be advised when requesting the first utility security deposit for non-payment of utilities that their benefits will be administered if they request a second utility security deposit for the same service provider.
  6. If recipient has other options and does not meet the requirements, ensure the recipient clearly understand the reasons for the denial and explain clearly the options available.

Note: Recipient must be provided information on the reconsideration process.

Effective: January 8, 2007

The ministry will recover utility security deposits using the Repayment Agreement (HR2663A).

[For more information on repayment agreements, see Related Links – Recoveries – Policy – Repayment Agreements – Repayable Benefits by Deduction from Ongoing Assistance.]

Repayments are applied consecutively but not concurrently.  Minimum monthly payment of $20 is made after security deposits for accommodations are all repaid.  

Hardship recipients are not required to repay until receiving income or disability assistance.  The system automatically adds a repayment of $20 on the recipient’s case at that time.

There is no limit to the number of utility security deposits that can be issued.  The Supervisor authorization is required in the following circumstances:
 

  • where a recipient currently has an outstanding utility security deposit and is requesting a second utility security deposit for the same utility provider; or
  • where a recipient requires a utility security deposit over $500.

Debt Reversal

Cancellation of cheque will not automatically reverse the debt.  Initiate a Credit Memo Service Request in the system  to reverse the debt when a utility security deposit is issued in error or is cancelled. [For more information, see Links for Staff – Job Aids]

Effective: January 8, 2007

The Supervisor is to review reports every month to ensure no recipient has more than one utility security deposit.  If a recipient has more than one utility security deposit outstanding to the same utility service provider, the Supervisor is to ensure the recipient has been set up on direct payment to the supplier for future utility costs. 

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective: January 8, 2007

More than one utility security deposit per utility provider requires Supervisor approval.

Issuing more than $500 for a utility security deposit requires Supervisor approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question   Under what condition would a recipient be eligible for a second utility security deposit with the same utility provider?

Answer   Recipient may be issued a second utility security deposit for the same utility provider if:

  • the previous utility security deposit has been recovered or repaid; or
  • if recipient has an outstanding utility security deposit, if the recipient agrees to monthly direct payment via supplier cheque to the utility provider and the Supervisor has approved the request.
 

Question    Is the security deposit for accommodation and utility security deposit repaid concurrently?

Answer    No, according to the hierarchy of payments, the security deposit for accommodations is paid first and then the utility security deposit is repaid.

 

Question    If a recipient is in arrears for the payment of the utility service, could a crisis supplement  be issued to cover those arrears?

Answer    Yes, to cover arrears in payment, a crisis supplement may be issued.  [see Related Links - Crisis Supplement]