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.