Ask CPAG Online - How should you present your case?
Whether you are making your application in writing, by telephone or in person (e.g. at an interview with a council officer), you should try to ensure that the local authority (LA) has all the information and evidence it needs to be able to award you a discretionary housing payment (DHP) (see ‘Can you get a DHP?’).
- confirmation that you are applying for a DHP and satisfy the eligibility criteria (i.e. are entitled to housing benefit (HB) or universal credit (UC) housing costs for your rent at the relevant time);
- details of what housing costs you are asking the DHP to cover (e.g. shortfalls and for what period between your benefit and rent, removal costs, past rent arrears), bearing in mind the rules about eligibility and maximum amounts;
- an explanation of how the need has arisen (e.g. because of the ‘’benefit cap’, the ‘bedroom tax’, local housing allowance restrictions, non-dependant deductions, reasons for moving to alternative accommodation);
- details of your finances including your income, essential outgoings and debts, to establish why you need further help to meet your housing costs;
- details of any other circumstances relevant to your claim (e.g. any sickness or disability in your household and extra disability related expenditure, threatened or past homelessness, future plans to improve your situation including moving to cheaper accommodation or finding work);
- information about the urgency of your need (e.g. if you are, or could be, threatened with possession proceedings because of rent arrears)
If any of your circumstances are referred to in The DHP Guidance Manual and Good Practice Guide for LAs or your council’s own information about its scheme (e.g. you are in a priority group or your circumstances are given as examples of where a DHP could be given), you may want to point this out when making your application.
What evidence do you need to provide?
In addition to your own evidence about the above matters, it may also be helpful to submit supporting documentary evidence. This may include:
- evidence of income, outgoings, debts, rent arrears, or threatened homelessness;
- medical evidence about any sickness or disability in your household;
- reports and letters from other professionals (e.g. social workers, housing support workers).
The law allows LAs to require you to provide information relevant to your claim and other information it needs within an appropriate time.1 If you are getting housing benefit, the LA can use information it already has about your income and rent, but this will not include details of your debts and outgoings (e.g. disability costs), so you should always ensure you submit full details yourself.
If you are getting universal credit, your LA can obtain details of relevant information from the DWP (see paragraph 3.13 of the Guidance Manual), but this may not be sufficient on its own to assess your DHP claim properly, so you should always provide full details yourself.
- 1. Regulation 7 Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001