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Housing benefit help

November 2nd 2010

With the changes to Housing Benefits, many people face harder times trying to maintain the roof over their heads, and their tenancies will be at greater risk. However, according to the FLATS agency, which advises frontline housing and homelessness sector workers, a poorly-publicised government fund can help those experiencing severe financial hardship to gain further support.

If you are currently receiving housing or council tax benefit and still need help to pay your rent, you may be entitled to a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). It has to be applied for and there is no automatic right to appeal.

You should fill in a DHP form, which you can get by phoning or visiting your local council office. It requires evidence of expenditure, so you will need to provide copies of your bank statements to show genuine need. You should mention any other circumstances that have had an impact on your finances (eg, a period of illness or child maintenance costs). A letter from your support worker may help. A council panel will then decide whether you will be given the payment.

Discretionary Housing Payments can help towards paying off arrears, but not if you were receiving enough Housing Benefit to pay your rent when you built up the arrears. You will not receive this payment is if your Housing Benefit has been reduced to recover an overpayment, and rent charges that include utility bills or meals will not be covered.

Whilst this initiative aims to prevent homelessness by helping people who are struggling to pay their rent, the number of people it will benefit is not clear. There is a limit on how much DHP can be paid out, and it will only be a short-term measure to a possible lifelong struggle.


November 2010



London's hub

Why Rochester Row?

Over 1,800 convicted under Vagrancy Act

Estimates of ex-service homelessness exaggerated, claims charity

Gone, but not forgotten

A thousand cuts

Boris slammed by homelessness charity

Big Society event

Sleep outs spark debate

Homeless charities gear up for cuts

Children held for fire attack on homeless man in Jamaica

Housing associations treble surpluses

Homeless hate crime passed in Florida

Homeless tours of London

Punks party for the homeless

In from the cold

Ex-homeless Mr England

Housing benefit help

Council strategy restricts emergency beds

First new council homes in a generation

Evictions fall by a third

New changes to housing law

Churches charity urges government to meet housing targets

World Aids Day - 1 December

Could cuts see the return of hostels?

Street Shield 18: A mystery to solve


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