Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments

A quick post on Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments, (DHP). DHPs are special payments that can made to people who have a shortfall between the amount of rent they are charged and the amount of help they receive towards it through either Housing Benefit (HB) or the Housing Cost Element of Universal Credit. Colleagues at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have asked we make sure landlords are aware of the following:

The Department has received a number of enquiries recently over the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) and direct payment (Managed Payment) of rent to landlords, to support claimants with housing costs on Universal Credit. DWP confirmed in its 3rd February Housing Bulletin that Universal Credit claimants who have a Managed Payments to their Landlord in place are able to receive Discretionary Housing Payments.’

In other words – if a landlord has made a successful request to the DWP for the Housing Cost Element of Universal Credit to be paid direct to themselves, the tenant can still also apply to the council for a DHP if needed. Please don’t forget though that DHPs can only be awarded when justified by the individual applicant’s circumstances. It should not be assumed that an application will be successful and DHPs are intended to provide temporary support rather than long-term solutions. For more information about DHPs or to make an application, please see our web pages.

And I will just add a reminder of my own. We’re seeing some cases where landlords are contacting the Housing Benefit team to chase up applications for tenants that they presume have applied for HB when actually, the tenant has applied for Universal Credit (including the Housing Element) and is no longer entitled to HB. Do please remember that tenants making new claims, particularly if they are single may well be going on to UC, not HB. However, if the tenant is responsible to pay their own Council Tax, they should still make an application (on our online form) to the council for help through Local Council Tax Reduction.

Oliver

 

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