What are Discretionary Payments?
If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs doesn't cover all of your rent and you are having difficulty paying the shortfall, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to help.
If you are struggling with paying your Council Tax bill, you may be able to get a Discretionary Council Tax Reduction (or exceptional hardship payment) to help meet some of your Council Tax bill.
There is a limited amount of money available to the Council to provide this help. Due to this, any payment made is likely to be for a short period of time only. If you make an application for a Discretionary Payment and it meets the criteria, your claim will be considered on its own merits and all customers will be treated equally and fairly.
How do I make a claim?
Or, if you would prefer to speak to someone first, please get in touch over the phone by calling us on 023 9254 5325. One of our experienced advisors can then talk to you about your situation and explain the support available to you, or help you make a claim.
Who can claim Discretionary Payments?
Anyone who requires further help with housing costs or Council Tax and is currently claiming Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or Council Tax Support.
Whether you are granted a discretionary payment, how much it is and for how long it is paid, will be a decision for the Council and will entirely depend on an individual's circumstances; each case is treated on its own merits.
What will a payment cover?
The Council will consider awarding a discretionary payment for the following circumstances, should the personal and financial circumstances of the customer entitle them to an award:
- a shortfall due to the benefit cap having been applied;
- a shortfall due to the social rent size criteria legislation having been applied;
- a shortfall due to Local Housing Allowance rate/size restrictions;
- a shortfall due to a restriction by the Rent Officer such as local reference rent;
- a shortfall in housing costs to prevent the household becoming homeless whilst the Council's Housing Department explores alternative options;
- a shortfall due to a non- dependant deduction;
- a shortfall due to the income taper;
- a shortfall for those returning to work after a long period (at least 18 months) of unemployment, who have difficulty in managing their finances during the transition from long term benefit until stable in work income is secured.
Discretionary payments cannot be considered for:-
- Ineligible service charges such as water rates or fuel (as defined by Regulations)
- Increases in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
- Certain sanctions and reductions in Benefit such as an overpayment deduction
What information do I need to provide?
You must provide any information that is relevant to your claim to help the decision maker fully assess your claim and come to a decision. As part of the DHP application, we will get in touch and explain what is needed for your claim.
What factors will be considered in my DHP application?
All factors of each individual case will be considered including:
- the shortfall between any benefit award and housing costs liability and any steps taken by the customer to reduce their liability;
- the financial and medical or social needs (including ill health and disabilities) of the customer, their partner, any dependant's and any other occupants of the claimant's home, e.g. are there health or support needs which require a customer to remain in a particular property or area? Is choice of accommodation restricted due to a health problem either temporarily or permanently? Are there children in the household due to take crucial exams such as GCSE's?
- the income and expenditure of the claimant, their partner and any dependant's or other occupants of the claimant's home. All income is taken into account for the DHP assessment including income normally disregarded for a Housing Benefit/Universal Credit assessments e.g. Disability Living/ mobility allowance, maintenance, child benefit and voluntary payments. Is all disregarded income committed to essential financial commitments or can some of this disregarded income be used to make up the shortfall?
- any expenses incurred by the claimant, particularly expenses relating to ill health or disability e.g. if Disability Living Allowance, mobility supplement is in payment, is this already being used for a motability scheme or travel expenses?
- Are there any unusually high work travel expenses, e.g. as the customer works further away from home or does split shifts?
- any savings or capital held by the claimant or their family and whether any capital/savings can be used to make up the shortfall?
- is there anyone else, e.g. family or friends that are willing to make up the shortfall?
- can the customer change their spending pattern on non- essential items?
- could the customer afford the rent when they moved in?
- can the customer increase their working hours?
- the level and nature of indebtedness of the claimant and their family and the steps taken to re-negotiate non-priority debts;
- have all available Social Security benefits been claimed and income maximized by way of benefits entitlement.
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