What is Discretionary Housing Payment?
Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is an extra payment made by the local authority (District Council) to help people who are claiming Housing Benefit and who are struggling to make up shortfalls in their award and pay their rent. The usual reasons why people get DHP are due to the bedroom tax or benefit cap or other situations where your Housing Benefit is not covering your full rent. It can also be used to pay deposits to secure tenancies. DHP is available to both private tenants and to people living in social housing. DHPs cannot be used to help with Council Tax debts. If you are getting Universal Credit you can claim DHP in the same way where the amount you are paid by Universal Credit for your rent is less than the actual rent you have to pay.
How to claim Discretionary Housing Payment
DHP decisions are made by your local council. More information about how to claim and links to claim forms are available here
For people who live in Coventry Coventry Discretionary Housing Payment
For people who live in Birmingham Birmingham Discretionary Housing Payment
How are the decisions made?
The councils are given a limited budget for DHPs in their area and the decisions they make are discretionary which means you do not have a right to a payment and there is no right of appeal if you are refused. They will look at your financial circumstances and the reasons you cannot pay the shortfall yourself so when you apply it is important to give as much information as possible about your financial position. If you think there is a reason why your situation is only going to be temporary eg because you expect your benefit to increase in the future then it is important to identify and mention this.
The council will only award the DHP for a limited period, usually 13 weeks. They may tell you that this 13 weeks is to enable you to make changes in your budgeting or housing situation and they may be reluctant to consider another award at the end of this period if there is no evidence that you have tried to resolve these problems.
How much can be paid?
There is no set weekly amount of payment that is made. Each case is decided on an individual basis and you may be given an amount to cover all of the shortfall in your benefits or just part of this. The council also has discretion about how they pay you so this could be weekly, fortnightly, monthly or as a lump sum. The payment can be backdated and you will not be asked to repay a DHP. If your circumstances change while you are getting a DHP so you no longer need the payment, you should write and let the council know as the fund is limited and they can use this sum to assist someone else in a similar position to you.
Needing more help
If you need more help to deal with underlying debt problems you should seek advice.
If you are refused a DHP and feel this decision is wrong you should seek advice. Although there is no right of appeal an advisor may be able to help.