Discretionary Housing Payments are extra help for people who receive Housing Benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit who appear to need further help to meet their rent payments. These are not intended to be long term continuing payments; they are awarded on a short term basis while you take action to improve your circumstances.
The most that can be awarded is the difference between the Benefit you are already receiving and your eligible rent charge. If your rent includes an amount for services that are not eligible for Housing Benefit (for example water rates, heating, meals) this amount cannot be met by Discretionary Housing Payments. If your rent has been increased to cover outstanding rent arrears then a Discretionary Housing Payment can't be awarded to meet the increase.
Discretionary Housing Payments are strictly limited each year. If a payment is awarded, it will last for a specified period of time (possibly three or six months at the most). Once the period ends you can apply for another Discretionary Housing Payment award and this will be considered. Changes in circumstances can also reduce or end your award early therefore the local authority must be advised of all changes as they occur.
As Discretionary Housing Payments are not Benefit you cannot appeal against any decision made in the same way as you can about Housing Benefit. You do, however, have the right to ask the Council to look at the decision again. If you want your decision to be reviewed you should request this in writing with your reasons. This should be done within one month of the date of the letter telling you about the decision. If your request is later than this it should also contain reasons for the delay in requesting the revision.
How to get a Discretionary Housing Payment
To be considered you must complete a Discretionary Housing Payment application form and send this to the Benefits Section along with supporting documentary evidence. The details on the form together with the details you have already provided when applying for Benefit will be used to consider your application. It is important that you give as much information as you can to help us make a decision. Officers make decisions on applications using Elmbridge Borough Council's Discretionary Housing Policy.
For assistance with costs that are not housing related the following is available:
- Surrey Local Assistance Scheme - the scheme can provide support for immediate needs after a disaster or in an emergency, where no other options are available. This can be to get food, for emergency travel costs, to keep your family safe and for essential furniture and/or white goods.
- People in need of emergency food aid can be referred to one of the foodbanks in Elmbridge. There are three foodbanks operating in Elmbridge – East Elmbridge Foodbank, Cobham Area Foodbank and the Walton & Hersham Foodbank. Food vouchers can be issued by the Citizens Advice Bureaux, Elmbridge Borough Council, Weybridge Job Centre and be exchanged for food at the relevant foodbank.
- Citizens Advice Bureau. You can contact either the Elmbridge West bureau or the Esher & District bureau for what advice, information and assistance these offices can provide.