Discretionary Housing Payment could help you out of a crisis

Inside Croydon has teamed up with South West London Law Centres to publish regular advice columns, based on the kind of casework being brought to their experts.
Here, MAHA KHURRAM, right, a crisis navigator at SWLLC, looks at who is eligible for and how to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment from the council

With soaring energy prices and the end to the lift in Universal Credit, household finances for many are becoming increasingly stretched. If you’re struggling with your housing costs, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment from the council.

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment?
A DHP is a payment that can help towards your housing costs and is awarded at the discretion of your local authority.

You can get it if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit and it can also cover one-off costs, such as a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs to help you move into a new home.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a DHP?
You must be entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit to apply for a DHP.

This includes:

  • Those living in temporary accommodation
  • Individuals or families fleeing domestic violence
  • Those with family care responsibilities
  • Those who cannot move immediately for reasons of health, education or child protection
  • Households moving to more appropriate accommodation
  • Households having difficulty finding more appropriate accommodation
  • People with disabilities living in significantly adapted accommodation
  • Approved or prospective adoptive parents or foster carers

How much DHP can I get?
The council will decide whether to award a DHP, how much to award, and for how long. The payment could be made to you or direct to your landlord. There is no limit to the length of time over which DHPs can be made.

Will a DHP affect my benefits or Tax Credits?
No. DHPs do not count as income or capital when calculating your entitlement to means-tested benefits or Tax Credits.

How do I claim DHP?
Each local authority has its own system for making a claim; however in general you will need the following documents:

  • Your most recent payslip if you are working
  • Your partner’s most recent payslip (if you have a partner and they are working)
  • Bank account statements covering the last two months (and partner’s)
  • Proof of any loan or credit card or hire purchase repayment agreements
  • Any letters you have received from the landlord about rent arrears
  • Proof of any expenses that are especially high
  • If you are ill, recent medical evidence

Croydon Council is able to help you with a Discretionary Housing Payment for the following:

  • a shortfall in rent
  • an advance in rent or a deposit
  • removal costs
  • rent arrears (extreme cases only)

You need to make sure that you receive either Universal Credit (Housing Element) or Housing Benefit. You also need proof of entitlement of these benefits as supporting documents.

Before applying at Croydon Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (using this online form), you need to ensure that you have completed their online Budget Planner or alternatively, if you are seeking debt advice, you need to have a Standard Financial Statement. This statement shows your income and expenditure and is useful to understand your circumstances.

There is no right of appeal against a DHP decision, but you may be able to apply for a Judicial Review in the High Court; you will need to seek legal advice on this.

If you need help or advice about applying for a DHP, you can contact the Law Centre’s Crisis Navigation team via email at crisis@swllc.org or via WhatsApp on 07743 729833.

For more general debt advice, contact the Money Advice team on 020 8667 9252 or complete their contact form at https://swllc.org/get-advice/debt/debt-advice-checker/

See the Law Centre’s website for the full range of advice and support available.

Previous SWLLC advice articles: Talking about debt problems is the first step to solving them

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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