Discretionary Housing Payments Frequently Asked Questions

 

Who can get a Discretionary Housing Payment?

Discretionary Housing Payments can be paid by your local council if they accept that further financial assistance with housing costs is needed. So you must be getting at least 50p a week Housing Benefit – or, if you are getting Universal Credit, you must be liable for your rent, ie have a tenancy.)

Discretionary Housing Payments are given at the local council’s discretion. The pot of money the local council has is limited and they will not be able to help everyone who applies. Most local councils have a list of the situations they would treat as a higher priority – but even if your situation is similar to one of these there is no guarantee of a payment.

You will have more success if you ask for help completing the Discretionary Housing Payment form from an experienced adviser. Please contact the Financial Inclusion Team on 0300 111 000 or 0800 633 5500.

Are some people more likely to get a Discretionary Housing Payment?

Most local councils have a list of the situations they would treat as a higher priority. Extra money has been put in the pot to help those affected by Housing Benefit changes such as the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap, such as:

  • Disabled people living in significantly adapted properties.
  • People who have to sleep in separate bedrooms because of a disability.
  • People who cannot use a bedroom because it contains bulky equipment related to a disability that cannot be stored anywhere else.
  • Families who are affected by the Bedroom Tax, who use their “spare” bedroom for someone who comes to stay overnight regularly to provide care for a child or non-dependant.
  • Families affected by the Bedroom Tax, whose “spare” bedroom is used by a child who cannot share a bedroom – but where this is not because a disabled child would disturb the sleep of another.
  • Families affected by the Bedroom Tax, whose “spare” bedroom is used by a child for whom the parent has shared care / access but who does not get Child Benefit for that child.
  • Those who cannot move immediately for reasons of health, education or child protection.
  • People moving to more appropriate accommodation.
  • People having difficulty finding more appropriate accommodation.
  • Those with kinship care responsibilities.
  • Approved or prospective adoptive parents or foster carers.
  • Those in temporary accommodation.
  • Individuals or families fleeing domestic violence
  • Pregnant women within 11 weeks of their expected due date, and those with children under 9 months old
How much will I get?

The pot of money the local council has is limited and more people apply for one than they are able to help. They are therefore very careful with the amount they award.

If you are applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help you pay your rent – and the council decide to make you an on-going payment, the most the local council can award you is your eligible rent, however it could be less than this. This award will be for a future period of perhaps 13 or 26 weeks. When this period ends, you can ask for a further Discretionary Housing Payment but there is no guarantee that you will get one.

If you are applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment for the start-up costs of a tenancy, such as rent deposits, and the council decide to make you a payment - then it is up to the local council how much they actually give you based on your circumstances.

Note: There are some things a DHP can’t cover – these include:

  • Ineligible Service charges (ie those that Housing Benefit or Universal Credit won’t pay for such as personal heating and hot water, support services).
  • A deduction taken off your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to repay an overpayment.
  • A deduction taken off your Universal Credit to repay a loan or an advance payment or a hardship payment.
  • A deduction taken off your Universal Credit to pay a third party, such as a maintenance payment or fine or gas/ electricity/water bill arrears.
  • A deduction taken off your Universal Credit because you have been “sanctioned”.
  • Extra payments on top of your rent to cover rent arrears.
How do I claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?

Expect to fill in a claim form for a Discretionary Housing Payment – you can get this from your local council. Some councils will ask you to claim on the phone.

You may be asked for details of your income and outgoings, and may be asked to provide copies of relevant bills or bank statements. You may even be invited in for an interview.

Provide as much information as you can about what makes it hard for you to manage paying your rent. Tell the council for example, if:

  • you have extra health related expenses or need an extra room because of sickness or disability,
  • you have extra travel costs because you travel to a hospital or you care for a relative or friend,
  • your work-related travel costs have increased because you had to move because of Housing Benefit changes,
  • you are likely to become homeless if a payment is not made.
Will it affect my benefits?

No. Discretionary Housing Payments do not count as income or capital when calculating your entitlement to means-tested benefits or Tax Credits.

I get Universal Credit. Do I still apply to my local council for a DHP?

Yes, the council still has responsibility for deciding and awarding Discretionary Housing Payments.

The council has refused to pay me a DHP because I get Personal Independence Payment (or Disability Living Allowance). What can I do?

The council should not say that you can use your disability benefits to help pay your rent. This is because Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance, are specifically to pay for disability related expenses. Contact us for advice on challenging this decision. This is more likely if you had a particular reason why you were struggling, or if you need to clear the arrears in order to move to a smaller property because of the Bedroom Tax or Benefit Cap.

 

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