Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) help people who need extra help with their rent when their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payment does not meet the full value of their rent. If you are suffering severe financial hardship as a result, or your tenancy is at risk you may be able to get a discretionary payment to help towards these payments.
The Government has set limits on how much Discretionary Housing Payment can be paid out in any financial year. These payments are made from a separate fund with a limited budget and are awarded as a short-term measure to help claimants experiencing difficult circumstances. There is no automatic entitlement and there are some circumstances where your application will not be successful. Even if you are awarded a DHP it may not be given for the full amount of the shortfall of your rent, or for the whole of your benefit period. DHP's are meant to help in the short-term. If you get an award there is no guarantee that another award will be made at a later date, even if your circumstances have not changed.
When we can make a payment
We can only make a Discretionary Housing Payment if we believe that the person's circumstances call for further financial help. Each case is assessed on its individual merits. The finances and personal circumstances of the applicant are carefully considered and taken into account.
Examples of circumstances when a Discretionary Housing Payment may be include:
If anybody in the household has particular needs associated with disability or ill health.
If the accommodation has been adapted because of disability.
If anybody in the household has a caring responsibility and consequential accommodation needs.
If anybody in the household has a relevant medical need.
If more than one additional bedroom is required for a foster child/ren.
If it is not possible or practical for you to look for alternative accommodation.
The above list only provides examples and does not cover all the circumstances in which a Discretionary Housing Payment is awarded.
When we can't make a payment
A DHP payment is not available for the following purposes:
- Council Tax (there is a separate fund for this).
For water, meals, fuel or other ineligible service charges included in your rent.
To cover any shortfall in Housing Benefit that occurs due to an overpayment being recovered.
To pay a rent that is considered excessive.
Increase in rent due to outstanding rent arrears.
Certain sanctions and reductions in benefit for example for a sanction applied by the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to seeking employment or a counter fraud punishment.
How are payments made?
Any Discretionary Housing Payment awarded for eligible rental charges will be paid along with your award of Housing Benefit either to you or direct to your Landlord.
If you are on Universal Credit and you have managed payments to your landlord we will pay any DHP direct to your landlord. If your Universal Credit is not paid to your landlord, we will make the payment to you.
How to apply for a payment
If you think that you need this extra help, you need to complete a Discretionary Housing Payment application form and send it to the above address giving us as much information as possible to help us understand why your circumstances are special.
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit and wish to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment you will also need to complete the additional form below:
DHP - Appendix for Universal Credit Customers
You will need to provide your last 2 months up to date bank statements for all accounts that you hold (bank, building society, Credit Union, Post Office). This is essential - no decision will be made on your claim unless these are provided
Once we have received your form, and supporting documents, we will contact you to let you know if we require any further information. We may also arrange an interview with you to discuss your request in more detail and to establish more about your circumstances and to see whether we can offer any other help, advice and guidance.
Under Housing Benefit Regulations disability benefits such as DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and PIP (Personal Independence Payments) are not included in the calculation. DHP’s do not fall under those Regulations and so all income from these benefits can be included when determining a DHP award. The decision in R v. Sandwell MBC, ex parte Hardy indicates that each application should be considered on a case by case basis having regard to the purpose of those benefits and whether the money from those benefits has been committed to other liabilities associated with disability that is extra care, travel and food costs.
After your application
If we decide that we can make a payment, we will write to tell you how much you will be paid and for how long.
If we decide that we can't make a payment, we will write and tell you the reasons for our decision. If you do not agree with our decision you can write to us and ask us to look at the decision again.
Change of Circumstance
We may need to revise an award of DHP where the claimant’s circumstances have materially changed.
We will seek to recover any DHP found to be overpaid.