Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are payments that we can make if your Housing Benefit is less than the full amount of rent charged. Exceptional Hardship Payments (EHP) can be made if the shortfall in your Council Tax Support cannot be met.
We cannot, make a DHP to cover the cost of:
• ineligible amounts included in your rent (i.e. things like fuel, water or food charges)
• water charges
• other debts
• reductions in Housing Benefit because of benefit sanctions
Who can claim a Discretionary Housing Payment or Exceptional Hardship Payment?
Anyone who is in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit can claim a DHP towards their rent. Anyone who is in receipt of Council Tax Support can claim an EHP towards their Council Tax. The council must be satisfied that you need further help with housing costs or council tax costs.
The sort of things we would need to look at are:
• Whether you have any savings (savings more than £3,000 would normally mean that you cannot get a DHP/EHP);
• Whether you could get help in cash or ‘kind’ from any other source;
• Whether anyone else in the house (such as non-dependents) are able to help financially;
• What your total income is - all income and all savings (including those partly or fully disregarded for Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or Council Tax Support) will be taken into consideration.
• What your total outgoings are and if you have any excessive expenditure
How much could I get and for how long?
The council cannot award a DHP or EHP for any period outside an existing Housing Benefit period, Universal Credit award period or Council Tax Support period. The council will not usually make any award for a period exceeding six months. When you receive a DHP or EHP award, you must use this time to try and find other ways of paying your rent or council tax shortfalls in the future. These other ways could be:
• Finding or changing employment
• Moving to a cheaper home
• Applying for other benefits
• Dealing with any debt problems
How are Payments paid?
Although DHPs are not payments of Housing Benefit, they will be paid together with Housing Benefit and will be sent to either you or your landlord in the same way as your Housing Benefit payments. EHPs will be offset against your Council Tax bill.
How do I apply?
You will need to make an application in writing. Paper forms are available by clicking here for a DHP application form or here for an EHP application form. We can sometimes ask you to attend for interview to get all the information we need but we would normally phone you or write to you.
What about changes in my circumstances?
If your circumstances change you must notify the council, in writing, within one month. We will look at the DHP/EHP that we have awarded and see whether it needs to be changed. If we think you can get more we will adjust the award. Likewise if you are entitled to less you may have to pay back some or all of the DHP we have paid. This also applies to an EHP award.
What happens if I disagree with the amount or period of payment?
If you disagree with our decision, you should write to us within one month of the date of the letter telling you about it. An Officer will look at the decision and change it if they think it is wrong. We will then write to you and tell you the outcome. If we decide that we cannot change the original decision, you can request a further review.
Please click here to view the Discretionary Housing Payments Policy.