What is a Discretionary Housing Payment?
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are extra payments that we may be able to pay if your Housing Benefit or Housing Costs paid under Universal Credit doesn’t cover your full rent and you are struggling to afford to pay the difference.
A DHP cannot cover ineligible service charges - such as charges for heating, water or food; it also cannot cover Council Tax. However, if you receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Support) and are struggling to afford the shortfall between this reduction and your Council Tax charge, we may be able to give you some short term assistance through our Council Tax Hardship scheme, which you can apply to via the DHP application.
Deposits/Rent in advance
If you wish to enquire about help with a deposit or rent in advance, you need to contact our Housing Options team to discuss your circumstances in more detail - as these are not directly available through the DHP scheme. The Housing Options team can be contacted by:
Telephone: 01952 381925
What happens next?
When we receive your completed application, we will contact you to discuss your circumstances. This is mainly done by email or by phone, but if a face-to-face meeting is required, we can arrange an appointment at our offices at Southwater, but unfortunately with the current pandemic, this is option is currently not available. This will help us get a clear understanding of the reasons for your application, collect any further information and discuss any help or advice that may be available to you.
We will write to you to explain our decision. This letter will tell you whether we are able to give you any help, and if so, for how long. We will also give you advice on what you can do to improve your financial circumstances.
Evidence required to help with application
To help with the process of your application we will require the following documentation.
- Tenancy Agreement.
- Latest Rent Statement.
- If you’re in receipt of Universal Credit, please supply your latest Universal Credit award, showing all income, including Housing Costs and any deductions being taken.
- Bank Statements to show proof of rental payments and to detail other expenditure.
These can be uploaded with your online application.
What do I do if I disagree with your decision?
You will need to write to us within one month of our decision letter and explain why you think our decision is wrong. Another Officer will look at your application and may need to contact you for more information. They will then write to you to give you their decision.
How will you pay me a DHP?
If we decide to make a DHP award, we will pay this along with your Housing Benefit entitlement. If we usually pay your Housing Benefit to your landlord, we will pay your DHP to them at the same time. If you are receiving Housing Benefit payments and have rent arrears, we may pay your landlord directly to help protect your tenancy.
If you’re in receipt of Housing Costs through Universal Credit, we will consider paying either yourself or your Landlord, depending on your circumstances, but again we may look to pay the DHP to your landlord - especially if you have rent arrears and your tenancy needs protecting.
What happens if my circumstances change?
You need to contact us straight away if your circumstances change. We will then look again at our decision and may need to reduce or stop your award.
What can I do if I am struggling to pay my rent?
Review all of your expenditure
It may be that you need to budget better, reduce your non-essential expenditure or check that you are not paying more than you need to for essential expenditure.
The following organisations are able to offer advice on budgeting:
- visit the Citizens Advice website for free, independent advice on legal, money and other problems
- visit the Age UK website for advice on money problems
- visit the Money Advice Service website for free and unbiased money advice.
Check to see if you can increase your income
Are you receiving all the benefits or grants you are entitled to? Could you or your partner take a job or work additional hours? Could other family members who live with you, for example a grown-up son or daughter, contribute more to your household expenses? Could you take on a lodger? Could you make an arrangement to receive child maintenance?
The following organisations can help you check if you are in receipt of the benefits you are entitled to:
- visit the Turn2us website for help from a charitable service that helps people access the money available to them
- visit the entitledto website to use online benefit calculators that people can use to check their benefit entitlement.
Please remember to notify the Council's Benefit Service if you have a change in your income or household circumstances.
Consider speaking to your landlord
If you rent from a private landlord, they may be willing to reduce your rent, perhaps for a short time, whilst you get your finances back on track. Not all landlords can afford or will be able to do this - but it is worth asking. If you rent from a social landlord, they are often able to offer wide-ranging support e.g. budgeting advice, benefit advice, etc.
Consider moving to more affordable accommodation
If you have considered all the above and still can't afford your rent, you may need to make the decision to move to more affordable accommodation. If you rent from a social landlord (Housing Association), your landlord will be able to give you advice on the options available.
The following organisations can also provide housing advice:
- The council's Housing Options team can give you support if you are facing eviction, homelessness or need general housing advice. They can be contacted by telephone on 01952 381925.
- Shelter is a charity that works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and bad housing.
Further advice on debt and saving money
If you are worried about debt, please contact one of the following organisations, who can give free and confidential advice:
- Step Change offer tailored advice and practical solutions to help people manage their debt and make a fresh start. They can be contacted on 0800 138 1111 (this is a freephone, including all mobiles) or
- National Debt Line is a helpline that provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. They can be contacted on 0808 808 4000 or
You may also wish to consider the following to help you save money:
If you are on certain benefits, your utility provider may be able to offer a discount. Each provider has their own criteria, so check their website or telephone them.
Check that you are not using more gas or electricity than you need to. For example, switch off any electrical equipment you are not using or see if you can turn down your heating thermostat.
If you are struggling financially, you may need to make a decision about whether you can afford any broadband or TV packages you have. Check to see if your current package offers the best value. Are there, for example, any channels you don't use? Visit the uSwitch website to compare the cost of TV packages. Your current supplier may also be willing to reduce the cost of your package, so you could try contacting them. You will need to check that if you cancel or reduce your package, you are not still in a contract period that may mean you are still charged for the original package.
Review your mobile telephone contract to ensure that you are on the best tariff for you. Are you in a contract paying for minutes, texts or data that you don't use? If you are struggling financially, you may need to consider reducing any non-essential usage. You also need to consider whether pay-as-you-go or a contract is best for you. Visit the uSwitch website to compare mobile phone contracts, including SIM-only deals.
Last updated: 25/04/2023 11:35