June 2013 Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments

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New regulations have been issued in relation to universal credit and discretionary housing payments (DHP’s) ensuring that a local authority may make a DHP to a person who is entitled to universal credit which has been calculated to include an amount in respect of housing costs relating to rent (or similar payments).

The regulations set a monthly limit on the amount of DHP equal to the amount of housing costs included in the calculation of universal credit.
A discretionary housing payment may also be made where a person is entitled to universal credit that doesn’t include an amount in respect of housing costs because the person is in exempt accommodation.  In these cases the monthly limit will be the aggregate of the payments the claimant is liable to make that would otherwise be eligible to be met by way of universal credit.

Claimants may be able to get discretionary housing payments if their Universal Credit has been reduced because of: 

Housing size criteria restrictions

A rent shortfall which may make them homeless

Non-dependant deductions on housing costs

Reductions in benefit where the benefit cap has been applied

Reductions in benefit for tenants in the social rented sector (council housing, housing association tenancies) as a result of  under occupation 

Claims for DHP’s are made to the local authority.  Most local authorities will have a form on which to request a DHP.  As DHP’s are discretionary, there is no right to a payment or appeal against a refusal.

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