If you have been awarded housing benefit, but the award is less than your eligible rent or council tax, and you are finding it difficult to make up the shortfall, you may be entitled to some extra help.
The council can award a discretionary housing payment (DHP) where someone needs extra help. DHPs are not housing benefit, but you must be in receipt of housing benefits to be able to claim.
Discretionary housing payments are an extra award of financial help that can be awarded for a short period to help you out of a difficult financial situation.
The funding for DHPs comes from central government and is limited each year, so when it has been spent no more awards can be made. Therefore not everyone who claims a discretionary housing payment will be given assistance.
A discretionary housing payment cannot help you with:
- ineligible charges e.g. heating, water rates.
- your rent if you are only entitled to Council Tax Support
- increase to cover rent arrears
- amounts of housing benefit that have been suspended
You also cannot receive a discretionary housing payment to make up for any reduction in other social security benefits as a result of any sanctions applied by the benefits agency.
Each individual case will be considered on its own merits. We will look at the individual circumstances of your claim and will consider the other options available to you before deciding whether to award a discretionary housing payment. The amount awarded is entirely at the discretion of the council.
Examples of circumstances when a Discretionary Housing Payment might be awarded
- if you are having unavoidable extra expenses due to unusual circumstances such as someone being ill or in hospital
- if you are having difficulty paying the shortfall in your rent because your rent is restricted to less than the full rent and you do not want to get into arrears while you are seeking cheaper alternative accommodation
- if there are special reasons why you need to stay in the accommodation.
The above list does not cover all the circumstances in which a DHP might be awarded. Your entitlement to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support plus any award of Discretionary Housing Payment must not be more than your eligible rent or liability for Council Tax.