What are Discretionary Housing Payments?
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are a top-up to benefit, and are considered if a person needs extra help with their housing costs. Any payment awarded is made in addition to any Housing Benefit that has been awarded.
There is only a certain amount of money to spend on these payments, so an application is required in order to decide if a DHP can be made.
Discretionary Housing Payments are generally only available as short-term assistance, not a long-term solution
What can Discretionary Housing Payments cover?
Discretionary Housing Payments can cover:
a shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent
Discretionary Housing payments cannot cover:
increases in rent due to rent arrears
any shortfall in Council Tax liability
benefit that has been suspended because of a failure to supply information
any reduction in benefit as a result of non-attendance at a work-focused interview, a Job Seeker’s Allowance employment sanction or failure to comply with the Child Support Agency in arranging maintenance
charges for water and sewerage.
Who can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment?
To be eligible for a DHP, a person must be receiving Housing Benefit and must satisfy the Council that further help is required with housing costs by providing proof of income and expenditure.
DHP cannot be awarded where full benefit is already payable.
Applying for Discretionary Housing Payment?
An application for a Discretionary Housing Payment is made by completing a Discretionary Housing Payment Application Form. This form should be sent to the Council with as much supporting evidence as possible.
Funds for DHPs are limited, so not all applications will be successful. If the application is from someone acting on another person’s behalf, this should be made clear on the form.
How will it be paid?
If a claim is successful, payment will be made together with any Housing Benefit. It will normally start from the Monday following receipt of an application.
What happens if circumstances change?
If circumstances change, the Council must be told immediately as the DHP award may be affected. If the change means that you have received monies to which you are not entitled you may be asked to pay it back.
Examples of changes that must be reported are:
when Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance stops or starts
changes in income or savings (up or down)
a person moving in or out of the home.
Disagreeing with a Decision?
Discretionary Housing Payments are made outside of the Housing Benefit scheme and therefore there are no statutory appeal rights. However, the Council will review a decision if a written request is made
Any appeal should be made within one month of the date on the decision letter, setting out the reasons for the appeal. Alternatively, a person can phone, write, or visit the Council to explain the decision and/or request a written statement of reasons, which will show more information about the decision.
To find out what other benefits you may be entitled to click on the gov.uk link on the right-hand side of this page.
The following links can provide guidance, legislation and case law in relation to Housing and Council Tax benefit.