BRITS struggling to pay rent could get help worth thousands of pounds.
Discretionary Housing Payment is a little known pot of money handed out by councils to those struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
Anyone getting benefits for housing in England and Wales can apply for the financial support.
You could be eligible if you're getting Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit and are struggling with rent costs.
The exact amount you get depends on where you live as each local authority dishes out the cash on a case-by-case basis.
The average amount handed out across the country is £527, new figures reveal.
But some areas are giving out thousands of pounds, and in one area as much as £4,496 was given out between April and September.
In Lewisham, south east London, 165 families have been given £742,000 between them to help with housing costs this year.
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Six other locations in London including Westminster, Ealing and Harrow have handed out just over £2,000 on average.
Housing costs in the capital are often higher than other locations across the country.
The amount councils can give out also depends on how many people need it.
As there is a set pot of cash for each area, the more people who apply the less money can be given out to each person who applies.
Nearly 6,500 applications were made in Liverpool – more than any other location -with the average amount given out £181.
The amounts are averages though, which means that some people have been given larger amounts and others less.
Each council decides how much you can get depending on each persons needs and how much cash they have to give out.
You need to apply through your local council for Discretionary Housing Payment and you can find your local council by searching your postcode here.
How much is Discretionary Housing Payment?
There is no fixed amount for Discretionary Housing Payment and what you get may cover only some of your housing costs, not all of it.
There is also no fixed way of getting the payment – you may get it paid as a one-off lump sum, or as a regular payment, for example monthly.
The payment may be ongoing or have an end date – if you're claiming it then it's worth checking when it will finish.
If you still need help after the support ends, you can apply for the payment again, although there's no guarantee of getting it or that it will be the same amount if you do.
There's no limit on the amount of times you can apply for the payment.
Once a council uses up all the funding that's it, and it may have to turn down applications if there is no more cash left.
If you apply for DHP and are turned down you can ask the council to reconsider.
You can also apply again after being turned down if your circumstances have changed.
Equally, if you get the payment and your circumstances change you'll also need to let the council know as it could affect your entitlement to the money.
The payment you get could to you directly, or be paid straight to your landlord
You may also be able to get the payment backdated.
Who is eligible for Discretionary Housing Payment?
You may be able to get Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) in the if you are entitled to Housing Benefit, or the housing element of Universal Credit.
There's a similar scheme of the same name in Scotland which can also provide support for housing costs, but with different eligibility criteria.
If the benefits you're currently getting still don't cover the cost of your housing then you may be able to get the help.
The payment is discretionary, which means that the financial support given out is decided on case by case basis.
DHP may be given in the following circumstances, but there are circumstances where you could get it too.
- You've been affected by the benefit cap, bedroom tax or local housing allowance rate changes
- Your housing benefit is not enough to cover your rent
- You're moving home and need a rent deposit or rent advance, or help with moving costs
If your benefits are reduced because of an overpayment and that means you can't pay all or some of your rent, unfortunately you won't be able to get DHP.
You also can't get DHP to cover council tax or service charges.
Check out how else you can get help paying rent and housing costs.
There's also support for anyone struggling with bills.
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