Discretionary Housing Payments – consultation response

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Read our response to the consultation on draft guidance and good practice guide on Discretionary Housing Payments.

22 August 2012

We have responded to a Department for Work and Pensions consultation on draft guidance (PDF, opens new window) and a good practice guide (PDF, opens new window) for the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), which provide further financial assistance to claimants receiving housing benefit when a local authority considers that additional help with housing costs is required.

The new guidance will come into force in April 2013, at the same time as the size criteria (bedroom tax) and benefit cap are introduced. The good practice guide is aimed at offering advice to local authorities on how DHPs can be used to help people affected by benefit cuts. Their publication reflects the growing importance of DHP in preventing hardship, poverty and homelessness following benefit reforms.

While the guidance is reasonably clear on how DHPs can be used, and who will be eligible from April 2013, it does not guarantee that those who can be helped – and who need help – will in fact be helped. This is, in part, an inevitable consequence of the Government’s decision to deal with the majority of ‘hard cases’ through temporary discretionary support from a budget-limited fund, rather than through exclusions or exemptions from benefit cuts.

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