Discretionary Housing Payments

Policy Update November 2016

The Council approved an update to the DHP policy on Thursday 27th October in which it expanded the discretion that can be applied when considering applications for assistance due to Benefit Cap.  This was to accommodate the lower Benefit Cap applicable from 7th November 2016.

If you are affected by Benefit Cap, you may apply for DHP assistance.  Your application will be considered taking into account all other circumstances in your household.

Policy Update August 2014. Under-occupancy cases

The Council approved an update to the DHP policy on Thursday 21 August in which it now supports all under-occupancy (bedroom tax) cases with DHP irrespective of hardship so as to put the claimants in the same position as if there were no under-occupancy restriction.

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit and are affected by under-occupancy (bedroom tax) and not already in receipt of DHP you should claim immediately. You can do so by calling 01546 605512 and asking to claim a DHP or by completing the online application form.

Your claim will be assessed for the current financial year.

If you are receiving DHP for under-occupancy up to the end of March 2016, remain in receipt of Housing Benefit, and there has been no change in your household circumstances, you need not submit an application for 2016/17 financial year as your award will be rolled on.  If your circumstances have changed please contact Benefits Section on 01546 605512.

All other DHP cases

Otherwise, if you are claiming Housing Benefit but are having difficulty paying the rest of your rent yourself, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.  A Discretionary Housing Payment can be paid to you if:

  • You already claim Housing Benefit, and
  • There is a shortfall between your benefit and your rent charge
  • You are having difficulty paying the shortfall

The Council has discretion to determine who should receive a Discretionary Housing Payment and will consider the following main factors: 

  • The household’s financial circumstances
  • The tenancy, and prevention of homelessness
  • The household’s medical circumstances
  • The priority group A to E in which the applicant falls

These factors will be taken together and an overall assessment made which balances the charges also financial hardship and the likelihood that support will help to prevent homelessness and specific relevant tenancy factors.  Using this overall assessment, applicants will be classed as high, medium or low priority within each priority group.

Each month there will be an assessment of which groups can be supported.  In general all high priority applicants will rank about medium priority applicants irrespective of which groups A to E they fall into.  Within a priority level (high, medium or low) applicants in group A would rank above group B and so on.

You can find out more about the priority grouping system here.

Awards will normally be for a period of 13 to 26 weeks, but can be for shorter or longer periods in exceptional circumstances.

We will tell you in writing of the outcome of your application within 10 working days unless we need to request further information from you.  If Discretionary Housing Payment is refused, you can request a review of the decision within 1 month of the date of the decision. Your application for DHP must be in writing.   You can get a form from your local Council Service Point or phone 01546-605512 and ask for one to be sent to you.