If you are receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit that includes housing costs, but are still struggling to meet your rent payments, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
To qualify, you must currently be entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit, and in need of financial help to cover your rent payments. DHPs cover certain circumstances of financial hardship. Please read the guidelines below, to see if they apply to you.
The scheme covers these situations
- reductions in your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs payments, due to changes in the benefit rules (for example, the benefit cap or under-occupancy of additional bedrooms in your home)
- shortfalls between Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs payments and the amount of your rent for other reasons. We will look at the circumstances of each case individually.
- rent arrears (being behind on your rent payments)
The scheme does NOT cover these situations
- help with paying your Council Tax bill
- paying for service charges which are not covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs (for example, heating, meals or water charges)
- financial hardship due to benefit sanctions, if you have broken the terms of your claim agreement
- shortfalls in your current benefit payments caused by having payments reduced, to recover a previous over-payment
Before you apply
You will need to provide evidence with your application to prove that you are experiencing financial difficulty, explain why you need further help and tell us about any money coming in to your household and what you spend it on. We may contact you to discuss your claim in more detail.
Evidence you need to provide
When we assess your claim, we may ask you to show us any of the following:
- Copies of any letters from your landlord regarding rent arrears
- Bank statements for all of your accounts, covering the last two months (even if they are overdrawn or you rarely use them)
- Evidence of your current rent, and a rent payments statement, showing any rent arrears
- Your tenancy agreement.
- Proof of any debts you have (if applicable)
- Medical evidence (if this shows a current problem which has affected your ability to work or pay your rent)
Factors we consider when we make a decision
There is no guarantee that you will receive a Discretionary Housing Payment. However, we will consider the following factors:
- Household income
- If your household has any debts
- If you have tried to help yourself, or have a plan for a solution
- Ways your household might be able to budget to improve your situation
- If anyone in your household is ill or disabled
- If anyone in your household can help (financially or otherwise)
- Any other relevant information
How DHPs are paid
DHPs are paid on a temporary basis (normally for 13 weeks) to give you the opportunity to resolve your financial difficulties, find employment or seek more affordable housing.
Claimants receiving Housing Benefit
We will include the additional funds from your DHP in your normal benefit payments.
Claimants on Universal Credit
We will pay your DHP to you every month.
Claimants who need to cover rent arrears
We will make a one-off payment to you or your landlord, to give you a chance to clear your debt.
Appealing a decision
You may disagree with our decision about your claim. This could be because we have decided not to pay you a DHP, are offering to pay less than you think you need, or we have decided to pay you for less time than you requested. In these cases, you can ask us to look at our decision again.
You should write to us within one calendar month of the date on our decision letter, explaining why you do not agree with our assessment.
Please note, DHPs are not covered by the same law as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, so you cannot appeal to the Tribunals Service if you disagree with our decision.
How to apply
By email or post
Download and complete an application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to Benefits, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JG.
Call us on on 01225 47 72 77 (our phone lines are open Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4.30pm, and Friday, 9am to 4pm). If we are unable to answer your call, we will aim to ring you back by the end of the next working day.
Once we have looked in to your case, we will write to you to tell you our decision and the reasons behind it.