What is Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)?

The Government provides each Local Authority with a cash-limited budget each year to help those in greatest need.

A DHP is not a benefit – it is an emergency payment and is intended to help people meet housing costs, usually where there is a shortfall between their Housing Benefit (or housing element of Universal Credit) and their rent.

It is not possible (and not the intention) to make an award in every case where there is such a shortfall. Therefore, in order to help decide priorities for payment when demand exceeds supply (as will usually be the case) Ceredigion operates within the DHP Procedural Framework that has been developed.

This framework sets out an agreed approach to deciding who should get a DHP award. It is designed to make discretionary decision-making more systematic, consistent and transparent. However, it is definitely not intended to impose a one-size-fits-all solution. The exercise of discretion remains at the heart of the scheme.

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Circumstances when a DHP CANNOT be awarded

A DHP cannot be made in respect of the following:

  • Ineligible service charges (meals, heating, electricity etc that are included in your rent) or water charges. 
  • Any increases in rent due to outstanding rent arrears.
  • Certain sanctions and reductions in benefit.
  • A suspension of Housing Benefit (HB) or Universal Credit (UC). 
  • A reduction in HB or UC caused by overpayment recovery.
  • A shortfall between your Council Tax Reduction and Council Tax liability.

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Circumstances when a DHP CAN be awarded

What types of shortfall can DHPs cover?

  • Reductions in HB or UC as a result of local housing allowance restrictions.
  • Rent Officer restrictions such as local reference rents or shared room rate.
  • Rent shortfalls from existing tenancies to prevent a household becoming homeless whilst the housing authority explores alternative options.
  • Reductions due to income tapers.
  • Non-dependant deductions in HB, or housing cost contributions in UC.
  • Reductions in HB or UC following the removal of spare room subsidy in the social rented sector.
  • Reductions in HB or UC where the benefit cap has been applied.

A lump sum DHP may be considered to assist with moving costs i.e. rents in advance or deposits and removal costs.

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Can I claim a DHP?

A DHP can only be awarded where a claimant is entitled to:

  • Housing Benefit (HB)/Local Housing Allowance (LHA); or
  • Universal Credit (UC) that includes a housing element towards rental liability; and
  • Requires further financial assistance with housing costs

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Can I claim a DHP to assist with moving costs?

From August 2015 a lump sum DHP may be considered to assist with moving costs i.e. rents in advance or deposits and removal costs. Please read the strict qualifying criteria outlined in Annex 5 of the DHP Procedural Framework.

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What information do I need to provide?

If you satisfy the conditions in 'Can I claim a DHP?' you or your representative must make a written claim for a DHP via the on-line council's approved Discretionary Housing Payment form. The word version of this document can be downloaded and completed on-line and sent as an attachment via email to revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or alternatively delivered or posted to any  Local District Office listed on the form.

The form has been designed to capture all the required information and a booklet "Applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment" is available to provide some guidance on completing the DHP form. Help in completing the form is also available at any Local District Office listed in the booklet and on the form.

If you wish to be considered for a lump sum DHP to assist with moving costs i.e. rents in advance or deposits and removal costs please read the strict qualifying criteria outlined in Annex 5 of the DHP Procedural Framework. If you satisfy the qualifying criteria a written claim must be made via the on-line council's approved Discretionary Housing Payment moving expenses form.

The word version of this document can be downloaded for completion by the claimant (or representative) and prospective landlord. Once fully completed it can be scanned and sent as an attachment via email to revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or alternatively delivered or posted to any Local District Office.

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How do you decide if I can have a DHP?

The critical factors in deciding are:

  • The financial circumstances of the household;
  • The priority group that the household is in;
  • The extent to which members of the household are able, and willing, to manage the situation they are in, or cannot be reasonably expected to do more;
  • The wider financial consequences of not making an award.

All of these factors are covered in more detail in the DHP Procedural Framework.

A letter will be sent to you or your representative as soon as a decision has been made.

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How will you pay the DHP if my application is successful?

Your DHP will be paid along with your Housing Benefit payment.

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What should I do if I disagree with your decision?

DHPs are not payments of Housing Benefit and therefore do not carry the statutory right of appeal to The Tribunal Service. However, Ceredigion has set up procedures for dealing with a claimant or their representative that would like an explanation or dispute a decision made by the Benefit Section on their DHP. Please see the disputes section in the DHP Procedural Framework.

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What if my circumstances change?

You must inform us immediately in writing if there are any changes in your circumstances.

It is particularly important that you notify changes in income, expenditure patterns or the composition of the household. Most notifications of a change of circumstances are related to Housing Benefit in the first instance but, where a DHP is payable, they usually trigger the cancellation of the DHP award. This can be followed by a new application if appropriate.

Please see Change of Circumstances for more information.