Discretionary housing payment
Discretionary housing payments (DHP) can help people in a temporary situation where they need extra help with their housing costs.
To be eligible for a payment you must be claiming housing benefit and we must be satisfied that you are in need of extra financial help.
What can I use DHP to pay for?
- rent deposits
- rent in advance
- moving costs
- rent arrears (but not if you were receiving enough housing benefit to pay all of your rent at the time the arrears built up)
- a shortfall between housing benefit and rent
- housing costs included in Universal Credit
A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) cannot be paid if the reason for shortfall is that your housing benefit has been reduced to recover an overpayment or because you're other benefits have been reduced, for example, because you left your last job voluntarily.
We will take into account any special circumstances that contribute to your financial difficulties for example, if:
- you have to pay child maintenance
- you have to pay legal costs
- your heating costs are high as you spend a lot of time at home because of sickness or disability
- you have additional travel costs because you travel to a doctor or hospital or you care for a relative or friend
- your work-related travel costs have increased because you had to move as a result of cuts to local housing allowance
- you are likely to become homeless if a payment is not made
How to claim a discretionary housing payment
Discretionary Housing Payments are not guaranteed and you will not automatically get a payment if you have had one previously.
The amount of help that you can get will depend on your circumstances and each request is looked at individually.
Also the length of time that you can receive a Discretionary Housing Payment will depend on your circumstances.
You may be contacted by a member of the benefits team and asked to attend an interview to get all the information we need to decide on whether you can receive a payment and to discuss your claim in more details. We may ask you to provide some evidence to support your request. This may include:
- proof of a medical condition that affects you
- proof of extra expenses
- proof of custody and access arrangements for children who come to stay with you
You should also send us details of the money you have coming in (if we don't already have this as part of your claim) and the expenses you have.
You should claim a discretionary housing payment as soon as you know your ordinary benefit will not be enough for you to pay your rent. If you delay, we may only pay you from the time you make a claim.
Who could get a discretionary housing payment?
You must be entitled to some housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.
The amount of housing benefit you get must be less than full benefit. These are the main reasons you may not get full benefit:
- If you are a private tenant, the rent service may have decided that your rent is too high
- If you are a tenant or homeowner your benefit may be reduced because of the level of your income
- If you are a tenant or homeowner your benefit may be reduced because of a 'non-dependant' (someone who lives with you and is expected to pay a share of the housing costs)
In any of these situations, we could pay a discretionary housing payment to make up the shortfall, but only in special circumstances.
If you don't qualify for housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, you can't get a discretionary housing payment towards your rent.
We can't pay discretionary housing payments towards service charges that don't count for housing benefit, things like charges for water, heating or meals.
When we can pay discretionary housing payments
The following are examples of situations where we might pay discretionary housing payments:
- You have costs beyond your control that are not due to your own actions
- Where you live was forced upon you by an urgent situation
- You have to live where you do because of significant health problems
- Your circumstances mean that it is important for you to live where you do
It's a discretionary scheme and there are no rigid rules. If you're not sure whether we would pay you discretionary housing payments, claim anyway and we'll tell you.
When we wouldn't help
The following are examples where we wouldn't usually pay discretionary housing payments:
- If your benefit falls a long way short of your rent because your landlord is overcharging by a large amount
- If you could deal with your housing costs in other ways, for example, by moving to cheaper accommodation or by claiming other benefits
It's a discretionary scheme and there are no rigid rules. If you're not sure whether we would pay you discretionary housing payments, claim anyway.
Who decides if I will get a payment?
A panel consisting of the benefit manager, advice services manager and the head of advice services will look at each case and have the discretion to make payments if they feel that the circumstances of the applicant are such that some extra financial assistance is required. Awards are made for a limited period only and will help the claimant through a particular difficulty.
If we decide to award you a discretionary housing payment, they are paid together with your housing benefit.
Changes of circumstances
You must inform us immediately of any change in your income and circumstances and the income and circumstances of anyone who lives in your household. For example:
- Any increase in wages or any other income
- Income support or jobseekers allowance ending
- Anyone joining or leaving your household
It is a criminal offence to obtain monies dishonestly and the council will not hesitate to use its powers to prosecute if necessary.