A Discretionary Fund is intended for individuals who need additional financial assistance on top of the benefits they claim. Through this blog post, we aim to learn whether claimants of Universal Credit can apply for a Discretionary Housing Fund and if there are any conditions to be met for the purpose. In addition to this, we will also explore who gets priority for a DHF and discuss situations in which despite claiming certain benefits, some individuals may not be eligible for a DHF.

Can I Get Discretionary Fund From Universal Credit?

Yes, you can get Discretionary Fund or Discretionary Housing Payments if you are claiming the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. A claimant for DHP can expect to get paid if any of the following situations apply to them:

  • the amount of rent that is used to calculate your Housing Benefit is comparatively less than the rent that you actually pay due to a restriction by the Rent Officer
  • the Local Housing Allowance assigned to your housing band  is less than the amount of rent that you have to pay
  • the amount of rent that you qualify for is restricted on the basis of the social sector size 
  • tour Housing Benefit claim accounts for a non-dependant deduction
  • you earn more than the amount set by the government due to which your benefit payment is reduced
  • you need to pay advance rent, a rent deposit or a moving expense

As these conditions are considered by the Department for Work and Pensions, they will also assess the personal situation and circumstances of claimants on the basis of the following factors: 

  • the date when a claimant’s tenancy agreement is supposed to end 
  • whether or not they will be able to agree to lower rent in discussion with their landlord
  • whether or not the claimant was able to afford the rent when the tenancy started 
  • whether they have any other ongoing debts and if the claimant has tried to reduce or repay them
  • whether or not the claimant can reduce repayments of other debts such as credit cards
  • whether the claimant is in a position to reduce non-essential expenses
  • whether they can increase their income or divert the current one towards payment of rent and council tax
  • any efforts that are being made by the claimant to pay their rent and council tax through their own means
  • if there are circumstantial changes anticipated in the near future that may increase the claimant’s income
  • if the claimant or a family member is faced with health-related issues that prevent them from their house

In addition to a Discretionary Housing Fund, you may also be able to claim the following forms of financial support from the government in case of a financial crisis:

  • Advance and Hardship Payments
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements
  • Budgeting Advance

Who Gets Priority For Discretionary Housing Fund From Universal Credit?

In addition to receiving the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, if a claimant is faced with any of the below-listed challenges, they will be given priority for a Discretionary Housing Fund:

  • if the parents are separated and they have a formal agreement to co-parent their child (or children); due to which they need an extra bedroom as part of the agreement
  • if the claimant needs to cover the additional rental costs for a disabled household member despite living in a significantly adapted house
  • if there are short term immediate rental costs to be taken care of while the claimant seeks additional sources of income or alternate accommodation
  • if there are short term immediate rental costs to be taken care of since the claimant is at risk of losing their tenancy resulting from an unexpected financial crisis

Who Cannot Claim Discretionary Housing Fund On Universal Credit?

There may be situations in which despite claiming the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, certain individuals may not be able to qualify for a Discretionary Housing Fund. This happens in the following cases: 

  • if the housing benefit claim and rental amount of the claimant is exactly the same
  • if the housing benefit amount is reduced so that the claimant can repay a previously overpaid amount
  • to pay for utilities such as water, gas or electricity as Housing Benefit does not cover “ineligible service charges” as these
  • if the landlord has increased the rent due to rent arrears on the claimant’s part
  • if the claimant has missed an interview scheduled by the Department for Work and Pensions if the claimant is found guilty of benefit fraud 

Conclusion:

The above article highlights situations in which claimants of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit can apply for a Discretionary Housing Fund. A DHF can be used to make short term, immediate payments in relation to housing costs but individuals with rental arrears or those found guilty of benefits fraud do not qualify for the fund.

FAQs: Can I Get Discretionary Fund From Universal Credit?

Who is eligible for a discretionary fund?

To be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Fund, claimants should be on Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and yet require additional financial assistance to meet their housing costs. In addition to this, they must qualify to be in extreme financial hardship that makes it difficult to pay for essential needs.

How long is a discretionary payment?

There is no time limit for discretionary payments as long as there is no change in circumstances under which the fund was awarded to an individual.

How many times can you get discretionary support?

If you qualify for discretionary support, you can claim three Discretionary Support loans and one grant during a 12-month period.

What can I ask for on discretionary payment?

You can ask for basic housing and living expenses to be paid for with a discretionary payment. These include rental deposits, moving expenses, food and utility bills.

Is DHP paid with Universal Credit?

Yes, to be able to qualify for a DHP, you should be claiming the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

References:

Benefit-guides/Discretionary-Housing-Payment.

Government/publications/claiming-discretionary-housing-payments

Universal-credit/other-financial-support

Benefits_and_support/373/extra_help_with_your_housing_costs_or_council_tax

Glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspxarticleid=17168

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