Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

June – July 2024 : Reflections READ ONLINE


Housing benefit help

November 01 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.