Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are payments that can be awarded if your housing benefit is less than the amount you are being charged for rent. Council tax benefit has been abolished from 1 April 2013, therefore you can no longer claim a DHP for council tax benefit or its replacement Council Tax Support.

DHPs are not payments of housing benefit. DHPs are awarded from a cash limited budget, at the discretion of the local council, where it is considered additional help is needed. We cannot award DHPs to help with ineligible amounts included in your rent - for example, certain service charges, gas, electric, food, water rates or for rent increases due to rent arrears.

Eligibility for help

A DHP payment can only be made if you are already in receipt of housing benefit. 

Additionally, you need to demonstrate that due to your personal circumstances you need extra help with your housing costs. The amount and length of award will depend on your circumstances and the amount of money we have available. The award is intended as a short-term measure and should not be relied upon in the long term.

Qualifying for DHP

We will consider all requests while trying to ensure that payments are made to those most in need. There is no list of circumstances that will automatically qualify you for an award. Each request will be considered on its own merits.

The following are examples of situations where a DHP might be awarded;

  • You have unavoidable extra expenses due to short term illness or significant health problems

  • You are having difficulty paying your rent whilst you look for cheaper accommodation

  • The Local Housing Allowance does not cover your full rent

  • Your choice of housing was beyond your control due to urgency or special needs

  • You have unusual or special circumstances

  • When you moved into the property you could afford the rent but your circumstances changed and you cannot move until your tenancy ends

 

The above list is a guide only and will not cover all circumstances. You can read our Discretionary Housing Payment Policy for further examples.  We also look at other factors such as:

  • Do you have savings?

  • Can anyone in the household provide financial help?

  • Do you have other debts?

  • Have you chosen to rent an over-expensive property without the means to pay the rent?

  • Have you tried to re-negotiate the rent with the landlord?

 

Wherever it is possible and reasonable to do so, you will be expected to take steps to improve the circumstances that have led to the need for a discretionary payment - for example, finding more affordable accommodation or seeking employment.

 

How much money can I get?

The amount of the award depends on an individual’s circumstances.
 
If a payment is awarded, it will last for a specified period of time, usually no more than 13 weeks, and you will be expected to pay the first £20 per week of any shortfall.
 
Sometimes we will ask you to undertake a series of actions as a condition of the award. This might include seeking employment or looking for cheaper or smaller accommodation. 
 
Once the period of the award ends you may apply for another DHP award and this will be reviewed. However, we will consider what progress you have made in regard to any actions you were asked to undertake. In some circumstances the Council may not make further awards if it is determined that the agreed action plan has been disregarded.
 
If you are benefit capped or have lost money because of welfare reform please contact our Financial Inclusion officer directly by email at laura.french@broxbourne.gov.uk, alternatively contact 01992 785555 extension 5980 to arrange an appointment.
 

DHP Payment

If rent is paid to a private landlord or housing association, the DHP is included in housing benefit payments.  If you are awarded a DHP, you will be advised of the amount and when payments will commence. If your circumstances change and you have been overpaid you will be expected to repay the overpayment.  Therefore, it is very important that you tell us of any changes in your circumstances.

If your request is turned down

DHPs are not payments of housing benefit and are therefore not subject to the statutory appeals process. Although there are no appeal rights against the decision not to award a DHP you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. To do this, you must write to the benefits service within one calendar month of the date of the decision letter, providing any additional information that you feel may help your application. We will then review our decision and write to you with the outcome.

How to apply

To apply for a discretionary housing payment, you can;

or download a paper application form. You can also request a form by calling 01992 785503.