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Sunday , November , 19 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

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Can I apply for extra help with my rent on top of my Housing Benefit?

Can I apply for extra help with my rent on top of my Housing Benefit?

Discretionary Housing Payments

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is not a benefit payment. It is a separate payment on top of Housing Benefit. Every year we have a limited amount of money to help residents who need extra financial help to meet their Housing costs.

It can help to pay your maximum eligible rent - this means your rent, less service charges like water rates, fuel charges, meals or rent arrears

The total weekly amount of any award, including your Housing Benefit cannot be more than your actual eligible rent.

From April 2013, DHPs include people receiving Universal Credit providing they have a rental liability and are eligible for support towards their housing costs.

As a result of Welfare Reform and the abolition of Council Tax Benefit as from 1 April 2013 from that point onwards DHP will no longer be payable in respect of meeting any council tax liabilities.

Who can claim it?

It is available if you are already entitled to Housing Benefit and you do not get the full amount of eligible rent paid because:

  • Your income is too high to qualify for the full amount
  • We are making a deduction from your benefit because of an adult living with you (your partner is not included) or
  • The rent officer has told us your rent is too high 

You can claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment by:

  • Writing to us
  • Calling into our office
  • Asking us to visit you if you are unwell or unable to leave the house
  • Getting independent advice and help from various agencies. We have given a list of local Advice agencies you can contact for help.

We will ask you to complete a separate form.

Rent Deposits

DHP can only be awarded in respect of housing costs. In general, housing costs means rental liability; however it may also be interpreted to include rent in advance, rent deposits and other associated housing costs. DHPs may only be used towards the cost of a deposit or, rent in advance when the claimant is currently in receipt of Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit. In particular it may be appropriate to help an existing Housing Benefit claimant move to affordable accommodation following a reduction in their Housing Benefit as a result of one of the Welfare Reforms.

How is it funded?

The Government contribution towards DHP has been increased to help councils to provide support to the people most affected by some of their key welfare reforms, namely:

  • Introduction of an overall benefit cap
  • Introduction of under occupation rules for social sector housing
  • Local Housing Allowance reforms

DHP is a cash limited budget which, in the face of Welfare Reform, is unlikely to meet the demand which will be placed upon it.

What information we need to know:

You must tell us why you think you need extra help to meet your Housing costs, please include information such as:

  • Any disabilities or illnesses you or a member of your family may have
  • How your disability or illness may affect you financially (for example, extra costs) or prevent you from moving
  • Income and spending, including debts
  • Any change in your circumstances which makes it more difficult for you to meet the shortfall
  • What would happen if you lost your home; or
  • Any other special circumstances

We may ask to see any reasonable evidence to support your claim. Please give us all the information which will help your case.

How is it assessed?

We will look at your claim to see if we can make a payment. We look at each case individually based on each person's circumstances. We will write to you to tell you whether or not your claim has been successful.

An award may be made for a short period to give a customer time sort out their financial circumstances. In any cases where there is no precise period by which the customer's circumstances improve an award may still be made. Any award however, will be made for a period that will not exceed the duration of the financial year in which it is made, and may be made for a shorter period. There is no guarantee that any award made will be renewed at the end of its duration even the customer's circumstances remain unchanged. The start and end dates of an award are decided on a case by case basis.

How will it be paid?

We will pay it with your Housing Benefit. This may be to you or to your landlord.

What if you disagree with our decision?

You do not have any right of appeal if we turn down your claim but you can ask us to look at the decision again. This is called a review.

Changes you must tell us about

You must tell us about anything you think might affect your entitlement to Discretionary Housing Payments or your entitlement to Housing Benefit. You must do this within 1 month of the change taking place. You must tell us about any changes in writing - a telephone call is not enough.

Further Guidance

The Department for Work and Pensions provide guidance on how DHP may be used.

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