What happens next?
If you provided all the information we need we will make a decision within 14 working days of receiving your application. However, there may be some circumstances where this might not be possible.
We will write to you informing you of the outcome of your application. If your application was successful the decision letter will detail both the period the Discretionary Housing Payment has been awarded for and weekly amount of the award. If you have been unsuccessful the decision letter will explain the reason why the claim was unsuccessful and give detail of how you can ask for your claim to be reconsidered.
How we decide if we can award a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
Each case will be considered on its own merits. The Decision Maker will undertake a review of your income and expenditure using the details from your Housing Benefit (HB) or Universal Credit (UC) claim, your application and any other evidence that may be appropriate. In making a decision we will consider:
- the shortfall between HB or UC housing element and the rental liability,
- your total income,
- the steps you are taking to reduce your rent liability, such as seeking to take on more affordable accommodation or to downsize,
- the financial circumstances of you, your partner, dependants and other household occupiers,
- the savings or capital you, your partner, dependants and other household occupiers have,
- your level of debt and your family and the steps you are taking to deal with that debt,
- any medical issues or other special needs you, your partner, dependants and other household occupiers may have,
- any circumstances specific to your household such as you have moved to more affordable accommodation but the cost of getting to work is higher as a result,
- whether you are taking steps to help yourself such as working towards obtaining a job or finding additional income,
- any other special circumstances that may be relevant.
The Decision Maker will also consider whether the shortfall could be met by any other means, for example entitlement to other benefits, or by more careful budgeting. The Decision Maker will also review your expenditure and may consider that some areas could be reduced to help meet the shortfall. An award may be conditional on you doing all that is reasonable to find a long term solution to your financial shortfall. Where this is the case we will specify the steps you must take to be considered for any future award.
How much help might be awarded
The final level of award depends on your financial situation. It will clearly not be appropriate or possible to pay the entire rental shortfall in every case.
How long the award is paid for
The period of award will be dependent on your circumstances and whether the award is to help to meet a one off cost, temporary shortfall or longer term need.
At the point of making a decision we will set the period of award which will be notified along with the decision. Decisions will normally start from the Monday after receipt of the claim. However, awards may be backdated if there is a good reason why the claim could not have been made sooner, the circumstances continued throughout that period and you remain entitled to HB or UC housing element.
Each case will be considered on its own merits. In some situations, payment made for a short period of time may be appropriate (for example if you are due to start a seasonal job in the next month or the size restriction on your home will end when a child is born). In other cases, the award period may be for a longer term (for example if you are disabled and your circumstances are unlikely to change).
We may also vary or restrict awards of DHPs if the overall budget for the Council is reduced or spent before the end of the financial year.
How will the payment be made
Payments of DHP will be made with your HB payment and will be identified by a separate decision letter. If you are receiving the housing element of UC the payment will be made via the HB system. Payment can be to you or your landlord.
Payments are made into a bank account at the same frequency as any HB payment, subject to any special requirements. For UC claimants the payments will be made depending on the frequency the rent is charged.