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Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payment is an award, not a benefit payment. 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.

Who is eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment

You can only apply for a discretionary payment if you’re currently entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal Credit. We’ll usually pay it with any Housing Benefit Payment.

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.

How Discretionary Housing Payments are calculated

When we assess your application for a Discretionary Housing Payment, we look at all the answers you’ve given on the application form. We’ll look closely at all your income and outgoings and any savings you may have.

We’ll consider the following:

  • whether you would be able to agree a lower rent with your landlord
  • when your tenancy is due to end
  • if you could afford the rent when your tenancy started
  • 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
  • if there is any other income or benefits you could get to help you pay your rent or Council Tax
  • what else you’re doing to try to help your problems in paying your rent or Council Tax
  • if there are health issues with you or a member of your family which mean that you need to stay in the home you live in
  • if there are things that could change soon which would mean you have more income
  • if you can reduce non-essential expenditure.

If the money you’re paying out is more than you have coming in, we may decide to pay you a Discretionary Housing Payment.  If we decide to pay you a Discretionary Housing Payment, we’ll write to tell you how much we’ll be paying and for how long.

How Discretionary Housing Payments are paid

If we decide to pay you a Discretionary Housing Payment towards your rent it will normally be paid together with your Housing Benefit.

A Discretionary Housing Payment may be paid if:

  • the rent used to work out your housing benefit is less than the rent you must pay because it has been restricted by the Rent Officer
  • the Local Housing Allowance is less than the rent you have to pay
  • a non-dependant deduction is being made from your Housing Benefit
  • your income is more than the amount the government says you need (your applicable amount) and your benefit is less as a result
  • you have had to pay a rent deposit or rent in advance
  • you have had to pay out money because of a housing need such as a moving expense
  • where your eligible rent has been restricted due to the social sector size criteria.

A Discretionary Housing Payment will not be paid:

  • if your housing benefit is the same amount as the rent you have to pay
  • for amounts included in your rent such as water rates, gas, electricity or food - these are known as ‘ineligible service charges’ and you cannot get housing benefit to cover these
  • 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 your benefit is being reduced 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.

If I disagree with your decision

The DHP 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 formal external appeal mechanism associated to DHPs. 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 can ask us to look at our decision again if you do not agree with the amount we’ve given you. You should write to us within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter, explaining why you disagree.

Report a change in circumstance

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


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