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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New approach to Discretionary Housing Payments

Hands opening empty pink purse

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) will now focus on sustaining tenancies and preventing homelessness. This means the Housing Executive will pay people more in DHPs and pay these for longer.

We were part of a group who worked with the Housing Executive on a review of these payments. We're hopeful the change will give much needed help to renters in Northern Ireland.

Changes to DHPs will prevent homelessness

The changes will provide a much more flexible approach to payments and mean

  • Renters who lost their £20 Universal Credit uplift in October can ask for an increased DHP
  • DHPs are no longer subject to a 2-year time limit
  • The 13-week full shortfall payment introduced as a COVID-19 response will continue
  • Renters moving out of temporary housing can get their full shortfall covered for 13 weeks
  • Young people leaving care can get their full shortfall covered for 13 weeks
  • New awards will be made up to at least the 50th percentile of the Local Housing Allowance rate
  • Awards under £10 per week will be reviewed and increased if appropriate

Legislation needed to make further change

The Housing Executive can only pay DHPs in circumstances set out by the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations (NI) 2001. These regulations set out

  • who can qualify for the payment and
  • what costs can be covered

The Housing Executive can set the amount and length of the award but has no power to change the eligibility criteria. Certain other changes, such as using DHPs to cover rent arrears or help with deposits, will only happen if the regulations are amended.

The Housing Executive answered our members’ questions about these changes at our most recent Housing Advice Practitioners’ Forum. This housing discussion event is open to all Housing Rights members and meets three times a year

Extra help to pay rent

Tenants whose benefits do not cover their full contractual rent can apply for a DHP.

The Housing Executive awards DHPs to both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants.

Apply for a DHP

You can

Our helpline staff can help you apply for a DHP. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Tagged In

Benefits, Private Tenancies, Affordability

This article was written on 8 April 2022. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.