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Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payments provide financial support towards housing costs and are paid when we are satisfied that a claimant needs further financial assistance with housing costs and are in receipt of either:

Discretionary Housing Payments can cover:

  • shortfalls between Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit and actual eligible rental costs, for example, where benefit cap, Local Housing Allowance restrictions or Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) deductions are applied.
  • a rental deposit, rent in advance, or costs associated with taking up a new tenancy for example, removal costs.

Discretionary Housing Payments cannot cover:

  • ineligible service charges included within your rent for water rates, gas, electricity or food;
  • where your landlord has put your rent up because you have rent arrears;
  • where your housing benefit is being reduced because you owe money for an earlier overpayment
  • where you have reduced entitlement because you have not gone to an interview set up by the Department for Work and Pensions, or you have committed benefit fraud in the past.

Discretionary Housing Payment is an award, not a benefit payment. For ongoing rental liability the awards are usually only made for a short time and are not a long-term solution, giving you time to sort out your financial or housing circumstances, particularly if you’re trying to find alternative affordable accommodation.

The Discretionary Housing Payment fund has a limited budget. If you apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment and it meets the criteria, your claim will be considered on its merits, and everyone is treated equally and fairly. We cannot exceed the budget and may not be able to help in every case.

Where there are exceptional circumstances, we may consider giving a longer award, for example to someone who lives in significantly adapted accommodation in the social rented sector and is subject to a reduction for under-occupancy.

How Discretionary Housing Payments for ongoing rental liability are calculated

You will need to demonstrate that you are unable to meet your housing costs from your available income.

When considering your application for a Discretionary Housing Payment, we will look closely at all your income and outgoings and any savings you may have but will also consider the following:

  • if you could afford the rent when your tenancy started
  • when your tenancy is due to end
  • if there are things that could change soon which would mean you have more income
  • if there are health issues for you or a member of your household which mean that you need to stay in the home you live in
  • whether you would be able to agree a lower rent with your landlord
  • if you can reduce non-essential expenditure
  • what other debts you have and whether you have tried to get help to clear these
  • if you can agree to make lower repayments for some of the other debts you have, such as credit cards or store cards
  • what else you are doing to try to help you pay your rent or Council Tax
  • if there is any other income or benefits you could get to help you pay your rent or Council Tax
  • if there are other members of your household who could help you pay the rent.

If we decide to pay you a Discretionary Housing Payment, we will write to tell you how much we will be paying and for how long.

Discretionary Housing Payment for rent in deposits, rent in advance and removal costs

Housing costs usually refers to rental liability, but can also be rent in advance, deposits and removal costs. If you are looking to move because you are either facing or are at risk of homelessness, there are grants and assistance for tenants.

If you are unable to raise funds to secure private rented accommodation before applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment you should first approach Housing Services to make enquiries about their schemes, which will include guidance on whether you can be considered for BCP Home Choice and the registration process.  

In considering you for the Schemes Housing Services will ask for your bank statements and proof of your income and savings to establish how much assistance you need and whether you can afford the property you have found.

Housing Services may engage with your landlord.  If you are not entitled to a Housing grant they may assist you with a repayable loan for a deposit or rent in advance but pay this to your landlord.

Housing Services will help you to complete your Discretionary Housing Payment form to consider whether you can be granted an award. If a Discretionary Housing Payment is made, it will be paid to housing services to clear your re-payable loan.

A Discretionary Housing Payment can only be awarded for a rent deposit or rent in advance for a property that you have yet to move in to if you are already entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing element of UC at your present home within Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole.

If you are wanting to claim a Rent in Advance or Deposit, then to support your application you should provide a copy of your tenancy agreement highlighting where it advises you of the amount(s) you must pay.  

If you disagree with your decision

The Discretionary Housing Payments scheme is wholly discretionary on the local authority to administer. The council’s officers therefore must decide the cases and circumstances under which extra help can be given.
 
There is no right of appeal to a Social Security Tribunal. However, the council has in place a procedure that allows decisions to be reconsidered where a claimant asks for this service.
 
The review of the decision is carried out by other council officers not involved in the original decision. You should write to us within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter, explaining why you disagree.

For more information on the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme, read the policy document.

Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment

Bournemouth area residents

Download the Discretionary Housing Payment application form.

Christchurch area and Poole area residents

Complete the online Discretionary Housing Payment application form.

When filling in the form, make sure you answer every question. If there’s anything you do not understand, please contact us.

Report a change in circumstance

If your circumstances change, you must contact us straight away.

We will look at your Discretionary Payment again to see if we need to change it. If the change means we need to reduce your Discretionary Housing Payment, you may have to pay back some or all of the payments we’ve already given you.

Please contact us for any help you need with Housing Benefit.