Portsmouth city council

 There are two supplementary payments available to people on Housing Benefit for extra help with housing costs. These are in addition to the usual Housing Benefit payments.

If you think you might be eligible for either of these payments contact us at Housing Benefit team.

Discretionary housing payments

Discretionary housing payments (DHP) are not payments of Housing Benefit; they are an additional payment. No one has the statutory right to DHP, they are made at the discretion of the Benefits team. You can download the Portsmouth City Council policy on discretionary housing payments from the bottom of this page.

To be eligible for DHP you must already receive Housing Benefit and either have a shortfall to pay between your Housing Benefit and your rent, or be facing a significant reduction to your Housing Benefit as a result of the welfare reforms. In the first instance DHP would usually be a weekly payment. In the second, it could be a lump sum payment, such as a deposit or rent in advance to help you secure more affordable accommodation.

The payment depends on your individual circumstances, and you must demonstrate that you are suffering financial hardship due to the shortfall in your Housing Benefit. DHP are intended as a short-term measure to alleviate poverty or difficult circumstances and should not be relied upon in the long term.

Discretionary housing payments are not awarded for:

  • rent if you only qualify for council tax benefit
  • services, such as utility charges, or support charges included in the rent
  • increases in rent to cover rent arrears
  • sanctions and reductions in any benefit
  • amounts of Housing Benefit that have been suspended
  • amounts being repaid for overpayments of Housing Benefit
  • arrangements made to clear council tax arrears

To claim, complete the discretionary housing payment application form below. We'll ask for details of your current circumstances and reasonable evidence to support your claim, for example evidence of any outgoings or medical circumstances. We will still consider your application even if you can't provide us with the evidence we asked for. Each case is treated strictly on its own merits.

We take into account:

  • the shortfall between Housing Benefit and the rent
  • any steps you've taken to reduce the rental liability
  • the financial and medical circumstances of you, your partner, dependants and anyone else living with you
  • your income and reasonable expenditure and that of everyone else living with you
  • any savings or capital
  • any income that may be disregarded in a Housing Benefit calculation

For awards towards a rent deposit or rent in advance, we also consider any repayable deposit from the current property and whether the new property is affordable

We'll let you know the outcome of your claim. If unsuccessful, we'll explain how we reached our decision and you can appeal (see appeals below).

If successful, we'll let you know how much you'll be awarded weekly, for how long and to whom it will be paid.  However, DHP may not totally cover the difference between your rent liability and your Housing Benefit payment. Even if your circumstances stay the same there is no guarantee that, if you're awarded one discretionary housing payment, you will necessarily be awarded another. If your circumstances change, let us know because we may need to revise the award.

Overpayments

If you receive a discretionary housing payment to which you are not entitled, we will decide whether it's appropriate to recover the overpayment. You'll get a letter from us detailing the circumstances, if we do decide to recover the overpayment.

Appeals

Although there are no appeal rights against the decision not to award a discretionary housing payment, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. The review would be undertaken by someone uninvolved with the original decision. To instigate a review, write to us at the address in the Housing Benefit section of the contact us page within one calendar month of the date of the decision letter, providing any additional information that you feel may help your application. We will then review our decision and write to you with the outcome.

Extended Housing Benefit payments

Extended payments continue an existing Housing Benefit agreement for an additional four weeks.

This means that if you or your partner start a new job or increase the number of hours you work, resulting in other benefits stopping, you may qualify for an extended Housing Benefit payment. The extended Housing Benefit payment would be for an extra four weeks at the same rate we paid you before you started work. It doesn't matter how much you earn in your new job.

You may be eligible for an extended Housing Benefit payment if: 

  • you or your partner received income support, income-based job seekers allowance, incapacity benefit, employment support allowance or severe disability allowance benefits for 26 weeks before starting work or increasing hours (there are additional rules if you received a combination of benefits for the 26 week or more period)
  • you have a continuing rent liability, and are already receiving Housing Benefit
  • your new job or increase in hours is expected to last for at least five weeks

To apply, contact us within one calendar month of the change in your circumstances.  Remember to also let the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) know that you have started work or increased your hours.

You may still qualify for Housing Benefit help after the extended payment period has finished. To avoid losing Housing Benefit, submit a completed claim form to us within a calendar month of your extended benefit payment stopping.
For further information follow the link to the Housing Benefit team on our contact us page.

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