Stay up to date on news, events and services in Sefton by subscribing to the My Sefton e-news bulletin. Sign up is quick and easy to do.

Sign up

Discretionary Housing Payment and Exceptional Hardship Fund Policy Statement

There are Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) available to allow councils to give you extra help with your rent.

This includes people affected by the Welfare Reform changes introduced by the Government. For example, the benefit cap and the reductions in Housing Benefit due to the social rented sector size restrictions. This is also known as the Bedroom Tax.

There is help available if you are struggling to pay your rent during Covid-19. Find out more here

Who will these funds be for?

These funds will be targeted towards two groups affected by the social rented sector:
• size reductions
• people living in accommodation significantly adapted because of disabilities
• foster carers.

The amount that the council can spend on DHP is limited. However,
The Council has a limited Exceptional Hardship Payment Fund (EHP). This is available if you are responsible for Council Tax and suffering financial hardship.

Publicity

Sefton Council promotes DHPs by working in partnership with local community organisations. This allows us to promote the availability and take-up of DHPs.

You can find information regarding DHP's as well as claim forms in the following ways:

  • Via Sefton Council Website
  • One Stop Shops
  • Advice Centres
  • Registered Social Landlords
  • Other suitable locations across the borough

If you meet the criteria for DHP and would like to request this, fill out the form here. Read below for guidance on filling out a request form


There is a joint application to cover both payments, but you can use it to apply for payment of DHP or EHP only. Customers need to give the council as much information as you can as to why they are requesting a DHP/EHP. his includes how much you are requesting and over what period you are requesting the DHP/EHP for.

 

Applications for DHP can only be considered if you are entitled to Housing Benefit and there is a shortfall between your Housing Benefit and your rent. Alternatively, if you are in receipt of Universal Credit, which includes the housing cost element. Applications for EHP will only be considered if you are responsible for payment of Council Tax and suffering financial hardship.

This would be the person who is entitled to Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or the Council Tax payer. The council may accept claims from someone acting on behalf of the person concerned, such as an appointee.

The Government has made additional funds available since 2013/14. This is to help two groups who may be affected by the introduction of size criteria rules in to the social rented sector. These are people living in significantly adapted accommodation and foster carers. However, help by way of a DHP is not restricted to people in these two groups.

  • People affected by reductions in Local Housing Allowance. DHPs can be made if you are affected by reductions in Local Housing Allowance rates.
  • People affected by reductions in rent due to size restrictions.
  •  Adapted accommodation - If you live in accommodation that has been significantly adapted for you or someone in your household due to a disability, you may be entitled to a DHP. This would be to make up any shortfall in your rent from having a reduction for your ‘spare’ room(s).

  • Foster carers - If you are a registered foster carer and you require more than one room for the foster children, you may be considered to be under-occupying your accommodation. This could mean you see a reduction in your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. As a result, you may be able to get a DHP to cover any shortfall in rent.

As each request for a DHP is considered on a case-by-case basis you will need to provide full details of your circumstances. The amount of DHP funding available is cash limited and will not make up the full losses resulting from these changes.

Most DHP awards are made only for a short period of time to allow you time to review your circumstances.

 

You can apply online using the link in the 'Do it online' section of this page.

You will need to give the council as much information as you can on why you are requesting a DHP/EHP. This includes how much you are requesting and over what period you are requesting the DHP/EHP for.

Applications for DHP can only be considered if you are entitled to Housing Benefit and there is a shortfall between your Housing Benefit and rent. This is the same if you are in receipt of Universal Credit, which includes the housing cost element. Applications for EHP will only be considered if you are responsible for payment of Council Tax and suffering financial hardship.

The aim of EHP is not just to pay extra levels of support to Council Tax payers. (thereby enhancing the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme). It is to aid and assist the most impoverished families/claimant(s).

A key element of the fund will be that support will only be given to Council Tax payers who qualify for a short period of time. It is not intended that the fund will be a long-term solution.

Where Council Tax payers are unable to meet their liabilities in the longer term, you will be encouraged to take actions. This may include taking debt advice or reducing your Council Tax liabilities. For example, by moving to smaller or less expensive premises. Priority will be given to those cases, which are identified as particularly vulnerable.

 

The council will write to the you to confirm the DHP/EHP decision. As DHP/EHP are both discretionary there are no appeal rights to an Independent Tribunal. You can ask the council to look at your case again if you are not happy with the outcome of your request for a DHP/EHP.

There is no set limit to the time that a DHP can be awarded for. The council will decide what award period is appropriate. It may be appropriate to award a DHP for a short period to give you time to sort out your financial circumstances. Or it may be appropriate to make an indefinite award or a one-off payment.

A key element of the EHP fund will be that support will only be given to Council Tax payers who qualify for a short period of time. It is not intended that the fund will be a long-term solution. Each DHP/EHP request will be considered on its own merits.

It is important that you report changes in your circumstances. This is if you are getting Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit. This also applies if you are getting DHP/EHP. The DHP/EHP will be looked at again to check if there is a change to the award. If the change means that the award is reduced this may result in an overpayment. Customers may have to pay back some or all of the overpayment.

DHPs awarded to help with rent will be paid along with the your award of Housing Benefit. This will either be to you or directly to your landlord.
If you are on Universal Credit your award of DHP will be paid separately. However, it will usually be paid to whomever the housing cost element is paid to.

EHPs will be credited directly to the customer’s Council Tax account and any outstanding payments adjusted.

Within Sefton Council, the Benefits Service and the Housing Options Team work closely to promote the availability of DHPs. Procedures are in place for requests for DHPs to be made by the Housing Options Team on behalf of customers. This is to help retain tenancies and help prevent homelessness.

There are a number of agencies throughout Sefton that are able to provide free confidential Debt advice to Sefton residents.

Sefton Council is committed to protecting public funds. If you provide false information, or do not provide all relevant information, you will be subject to an investigation. This could result in prosecution.

Sefton Council’s policy in respect of DHP and EHP can be viewed on-line. We will review the DHP/EHP policy annually as well as the procedures in place to administer the DHP/EHP.

You can view the policy here.

Recite Me Button