29th October, 2015
Over the next few years, you can expect to see a significant hike in the number of applications for DHP as benefit claimants and their advisors turn to the scheme in the hope of offsetting some of the significant losses, experienced through the various welfare reforms, including:
a) Introduction of Universal Credit; and
b) Implications of the “claimant commitment” and associated sanctions regime; and
c) The various measures included in the recent summer budget, which will see the benefits cap lowered to £20,000 in most areas and means tested benefits and housing costs frozen for 4 years.
You’ll find my analysis of the summer budget proposals and consequences here: http://universalcreditadvice.com/housing-associations/2015/07/budget-report—an-update
To offset some of these losses the Government proposes to inject an additional £800 M into the DHP scheme pot. A significant sum by anyone’s standards but a drop in the ocean compared to the £ Billions taken out of the overall welfare benefit budget.
The DWP has produced DHP Guidance Manual to assist both administering councils and claimant representatives. Although the guidance is not binding on the local authority it does provide a good indication of what can be applied for; how applications can be made; and what’s most likely to attract funding.
It was only recently updated and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/453392/discretionary-housing-payments-guide-aug-15.pdf
Although DWP will be administering Universal Credit, responsibility for the DHP scheme still remains the responsibility of councils. Payments can be made in respect of Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and Universal Credit to bolster any limited award received by tenants to allow them to meet their respective rental liabilities.
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) who, amongst other things, produce many of the best “benefit advice” related textbooks, oftentimes referred to by Decision Makers, Tribunals and Upper-tier Judges have just published a guide to the DHP scheme, which is broken into 4 separate sections.
- Can you get a DHP?
- How do you apply?
- How to dispute a claim that’s refused?
- How to find out about your local scheme?
I would highly recommend this, and all their other excellent textbooks, to your staff. You can find the DHP piece here: http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/ask-cpag-online-discretionary-housing-payments
Contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07733 080 389 if you require any further information or clarification in relation to this ot any other welfare reform issue.
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd