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Discretionary housing payments

Updated: 23 Sep 2017
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A discretionary payment can help make up shortfall in your rent
Handing over money

Who can apply for a discretionary housing payment?

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is available to tenants living in the social sector [Housing Executive and housing association] and private sector who are in receipt of Housing Benefit

What are the criteria?

There are three reasons why you might be eligible to apply…
1. Family Premium
You may be able to apply for DHP if:
you have an existing housing benefit claim with no dependents included and then a child enters your household after 5 September 2016 and you do not receive full housing benefit; or
you make a new claim after 5 September 2016 which includes dependent child(ren) and you are not awarded full housing benefit; and / or
2. Benefit Cap
Have you been affected by a cap in your benefit payments since 7 November 2016?  
Couple/Family: If your Housing Benefit decreased because of Benefit Cap you may be receiving Welfare Supplementary Payment (WSP) to make this up. However, a change in your circumstances may mean your housing benefit again reduces but WSP does not increase. If this is the case then you may apply, or
Single: you will not receive a Welfare Supplementary Payment if you’re affected by Benefit Cap but you can apply for Discretionary Housing Payment; and / or
3. Shortfall in rent (private sector only)
If there is a difference between the rent charged by your landlord (contractual rent) and the rent used by us to work out your entitlement to Housing Benefit (eligible rent or Local Housing Allowance) you may be entitled to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help make up some of the difference.

How do I apply for a discretionary housing payment?

If one, or more, of the above affects your household then download an application form at the following link:
Download the Discretionary housing payment application form (Adobe PDF 100 KB)
Complete and return this form to your nearest Housing Executive office as soon as possible.  
You can contact the Housing Executive Tel: 03448 920 902 | Textphone: 18001 03448 920 902 to request an application form or speak to an advisor for further information.

Is an award payment guaranteed?

No, awards cannot be guaranteed and each request is considered on its own merit.  The awards are funded from a limited budget given to the Housing Executive by the Department for Communities (DfC).

What happens next?

We will consider each application on its own merit while trying to ensure payments are made to those most in need.
There is no list of circumstances that will automatically qualify you for an award of discretionary housing payment.  
In the case of a shortfall in rent you must show that you are in need of financial help to meet this.  Wherever it is possible, and reasonable to do so, you will be expected to take steps to improve the circumstances that led to your need for a discretionary housing payment. (eg: finding more affordable accommodation).

How much can I get?

Family Premium

the maximum in respect of rent is £11.34 per week and is only available if you do not receive full Housing Benefit and have had a child enter your household since 5 September 2016.

Benefit Cap

the maximum amount is:
Singles: the full shortfall between the old housing benefit amount and the new amount ; and
Couples/Families: the difference between the old benefit cap amount and the new benefit cap amount that will not be met through Welfare Supplementary (mitigation) Payment scheme.

Shortfall in rent

the maximum will not be greater than the difference between the rent you pay and the eligible rent the Housing Executive uses to work out your Housing Benefit claim.
Worked example:
Rent you are charged
£90
Your eligible rent / LHA for HB
- £65
Shortfall
= £25
--------
Potential DHP payable
= £25

Please note

Discretionary Housing Payment is subject to the available budget and once this has been fully allocated further requests within that year will be turned down.

How long would an award last?

Any award made will be dated from the Monday of the week your application is received.  It will last for a set period of time which will be highlighted in the letter of offer you are sent.    
Renewal: an award may last from six months to two years but you will need to ‘renew’ your application during each financial year (1 April - 31 March) to ensure it runs for the full time.
End of award: when your award ends, you may apply for another discretionary housing payment award and this will be considered according to your needs and the amount of discretionary budget remaining.
The fact that you have received a discretionary housing payment previously does not guarantee that a further award will be made.

How will you pay if my application is successful?

We will pay your award with your Housing Benefit but remember discretionary housing payment is not a payment of Housing Benefit.

What should I do if I disagree with your decision?

If you disagree with our decision:
  • not to give you a discretionary housing payment; or
  • with the amount we have decided to give you; or
  • how long your award lasts
you can ask us to look at the decision again.
You must write to us within one month of the date we inform you of the decision.
Discretionary housing payment is not an award of Housing Benefit so you cannot appeal to the ‘Appeals Service’ about our decision.

What if my circumstances change?

If your circumstances change, you must tell us straight away and we will look at your discretionary housing payment award to see if we need to change it. If the change means we have paid you too much we will ask you to repay the money.

Further information

If you have any questions or queries
  • Call into your local Housing Executive office
  • Tel: 03448 920 902
  • Textphone: 18001 03448 920 902