Discretionary housing payments

Overview

Discretionary housing payments are a limited fund provided to the London Borough of Bexley by the government each year. The fund allows the Council to provide additional assistance with rent in exceptional cases where Housing Benefit or Universal Credit does not cover a claimants rent in full. 
The scheme is purely discretionary; a claimant does not have a statutory right to a payment. Discretionary Housing Payments may be awarded as a one-off payment and/or a series of payments. 

The Council will treat all applications on their individual merits, and aims to use Discretionary Housing Payments to:

  • alleviate poverty
  • encourage and sustain Bexley residents in employment
  • help those who are trying to help themselves
  • keep families together
  • support the vulnerable in the local community
  • help claimants through personal crises and difficult events

Claiming a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

A claim for DHP must be made online wherever possible using the DHP Application Form. If however, you need help or assistance to complete the form please email DHP@bexley.gov.uk or call 020 3045 3546. 

Please try and complete the form with all the requested information. Please note that the Council may request any reasonable evidence in support of your claim and will consider any other available evidence held by Housing Services or Housing Benefit. 

The Council may request additional information and evidence so that the claim can be assessed and in most cases, this will be requested by email. The claimant will be asked to provide this information within one month of the date of the request and if they fail to provide it in time a decision will be made on the information that has already been provided. 

The Council reserves the right to verify any information or evidence provided by the claimant in appropriate circumstances.

Awarding a DHP

In deciding whether to award a DHP, the following will be considered:

  • the shortfall between Housing Benefit/Universal Credit and the rent liability
  • any steps taken by the claimant to reduce their rental liability
  • the financial and medical circumstances of the claimant and any other occupants of the claimant's home
  • the income and expenditure of the claimant and any other occupants of the claimant's home
  • any savings or capital the claimant or their family may have
  • any outstanding debts the claimant and their family may have
  • the nature of the claimant and their family's circumstances
  • the amount available in the DHP budget at the time of the application
  • the possible impact on the Council of not making such an award, example, the pressure on priority homeless accommodation
  • any steps taken to reduce rental liability, obtain employment of increase the level of income
  • any other special circumstances that we are aware of

The claimant (and the landlord if a payment is being made directly to them) will be informed of the outcome of their application by email wherever possible. 

If the application is successful the applicant will be advised of the amount of DHP awarded, the period of the award (start and end date) and how, when and to whom the award will be paid.

If the application is unsuccessful the applicant will be advised of the reason for the decision and the right to appeal will be explained.

Please note that wherever possible DHP’s will be paid directly to the Landlord unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Period of award

The Council will decide the length of time for which a DHP will be awarded depending on the individual circumstances of each application. 

The start date of an award will normally be:

  • the Monday after the written claim for a DHP is received by the Council or
  • the date on which entitlement to housing benefit/universal credit commenced (providing the DHP application is received within one calendar month of the claim for Housing Benefit/Universal Credit) whichever is the earlier, or the most appropriate

Changes of circumstances

All change of circumstances must be reported promptly as we may need to revise an award of a DHP where the claimant's circumstances have materially changed. You should report all changes of circumstances using the online DHP change in circumstances form.

This form is for reporting changes to the DHP team only, and cannot be used to report any changes in relation to your Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction claim. If you need to report a change to the Benefits Office for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction please use the online form Report a change in circumstances or ask a question.

Overpayments

Every effort will be made to minimise overpayments of DHP. However, if an overpayment does occur the Council will decide whether recovery is appropriate and will notify the claimant (or whoever received the overpayment) in writing explaining that an overpayment has been made, how much it is and what period it applies to. 

Appeals

If you disagree with the outcome of your DHP application, you should write to or email the Council within a month of the decision letter to explain your reasons for disagreeing with the decision and request a review.

A senior officer will review all the evidence held and will make a decision whether to either uphold the original decision or overturn it and make or increase an award of DHP. You will be notified of the outcome in writing, with reasons for the decision. The decision made by the senior officer will be notified in writing and is final. If you are still not happy with the outcome, you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman or apply for a Judicial review.