Discretionary housing payments

What are Discretionary Housing Payments?

The council fully supports the aims of the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Scheme. This scheme, which was introduced on 2 July 2001, aims to relieve financial hardship associated with excessive housing costs.

Every year, the Government determines the level of the grant to be paid to the council to cover the total spending on DHPs. The council will annually review the policy, procedures and administration of the DHP scheme.

As of 1 April 2013, DHPs cannot be made for council tax. There is a separate hardship scheme for this.

What can a DHP pay for?

Applications for a DHP will only be considered where the customer is entitled to either housing benefit and there is a shortfall between the customer’s housing benefit and contractual rent (less all ineligible service charges) or they are in receipt of housing costs in their Universal Credit payment and they are experiencing financial difficulties or they require financial assistance in moving to new accommodation i.e. rent deposit.

A customer may be eligible for a DHP towards a rent deposit generally if they are receiving housing benefit or housing costs in their Universal Credit payment and need help to pay for a deposit on another property, in exceptional circumstances they will also be entitled if they are not currently in receipt of either benefit but are likely to be and in making the payment it will assist the Council to fulfil it’s duty to provide suitable accommodation, prevent homelessness and to avoid placing residents in expensive temporary accommodation.

The eligibility criteria is set out in the policy and this must be complied with, including the size and cost of the property, a rent deposit is generally given so that the Council does not need to continue to pay DHP to top up a weekly rent. 

Please see the DHP policy which will show you how we calculate a payment and who is eligible:

What information is taken into account?

All decisions take into account the individual circumstances of the customer, this includes their needs, the needs of their family and local rental market conditions. It is not the purpose of the DHP scheme to support artificially high levels of rent.

When considering whether it is appropriate to award a DHP, the customer must demonstrate that he/she is suffering from financial hardship as a direct result of his/her housing costs. The council will take in to consideration a wide variety of circumstances.

  • The council may need to know if the customer has tried to negotiate a rent reduction with the landlord.
  • The council may need to know if the customer is looking for a property at a lower cost and why it would be difficult to find suitable cheaper alternative accommodation.
  • Before DHPs are awarded the council must be satisfied that there are no other means of alleviating the shortfall.
  • The council will ask about income and outgoings and what efforts have been made to reduce outgoings in order to pay the shortfall of rent or what actions have been taken to maximise income for example looking for work, considering increased hours etc
  • The council will expect the customer to support any statements that they make with the appropriate evidence.
  • The council may not necessarily award the full rental amount and any payment would be for a limited period, but could be reapplied for at the end of that period.
  • DHPs cannot be given where the customer is already in receipt of the maximum benefit Housing Benefit, but can be considered for it if the customer is receiving maximum Housing costs under Universal Credit.
  • Each case must be decided on its own special circumstances.

How much DHP can be paid and for how long? 

A DHP award can be made for any period, the Council will generally make an award for 3 or 6 months or up to the end of the financial year as appropriate, there are exceptional circumstances where the award may be for longer, most of these have been defined by caselaw.

The level of the housing benefit plus the DHP must not exceed the weekly eligible rent, though this is not the case for those in receipt of Universal Credit.

If at the time of the initial award it is felt the current accommodation is inappropriate, the customer will be advised to look for alternative ways of alleviating the hardship, for example, moving to cheaper accommodation and will be given reasonable time to do this but a DHP is not generally paid long term.

How will a DHP be paid?

The council will issue a payment in respect of the award of the DHP to either the customer, or his/her landlord/agent.

If the application for DHP is unsuccessful, a letter is issued to the customer explaining the decision and advising them that they can request a review of the decision within one calendar month.

Overpayments

Customers have a duty to notify the council of any changes in their circumstances, which may affect their entitlement to a DHP. These will normally be the changes that affect their entitlement to housing benefit or Universal Credit at the address for which the DHP is claimed. We will seek to recover any overpayments.

How to apply

The customer or his/her representative can request a DHP either by telephone or in writing. They will still need to complete a DHP application form. We will not accept electronic copies of this form so it should be printed off, completed and returned to us by post or in person.

Information needed to support a claim for DHP

Rent Deposits

  • A letter from the prospective landlord giving the address and amount of deposit required to secure the property.
  • A current gas certificate for the property.
  • The customer’s most recent bank statement.

For all other DHP applications

Please give as much information as you can and where possible provide proof to support your application. For example if it is due to an illness, please provide us with a letter confirming a hospital appointment, or wage slips showing sick pay.

We will need to see evidence of income and outgoings. Please supply as much information as you can as it may help to process your claim more quickly.

We may write to a customer to request further information to support their application.

We aim to make the decision within 14 days of receipt of a complete claim being received. We will write to the customer with a decision within five days of it being made.

This confirmation will include the amount and duration of any award, the reasons for the decision and their right to request a review of the decision.

Reclaiming DHP

Please note that at the end of your award period you will not be sent a new claim form to make a further claim. If you feel that your circumstances have not improved and you need to make a further claim it is your responsibility to make the claim in time, there is limited scope for backdating within the DHP Policy and only for exceptional circumstances.

Leaflet 

Contact us

Online
Contact Benefits form

Telephone
01753 475111
Monday to Friday 8am - 7pm.

In person
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