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Housing Benefit and Extra help towards your Rent and Council Tax

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					Housing Benefit and
Council Tax Benefit

Advice




   Discretionary Housing
         Payments
   Extra help towards your
    Rent and Council Tax
Equal Opportunities Statement

Gravesham Borough Council is committed to ensuring that no service
user or customer is discriminated against on the grounds of disability,
gender, race, religion and belief, or sexuality.

Leaflets available:

  • Help with rent and Council Tax for Working Age People

  • Help with rent and Council Tax for Pensioners

  • Can my Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claim be
    backdated?

  • Changes you need to tell us about

  • A Guide for the Self-Employed

  • Discretionary Housing Payments - Extra help towards your rent &
    Council Tax

  • Appeals - What do I do if I disagree with your decision?

  • A guide to Overpayments and Debt

  • A guide for Landlords and Agents

  • A guide to Local Housing Allowance

  • A guide to Local Housing Allowance for Landlords and Agents

  • A guide for Students

You can get the above leaflets in large print.

! Please note that whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the
details given in this leaflet are correct, the information should not be
treated as an authoritative statement of benefit regulations.
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What are Discretionary Housing Payments?

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are extra payments made at
the discretion of Gravesham Borough Council to help people meet their
shortfalls in rent, Council Tax or both. We give DHPs to people claiming
benefit who need extra help with their housing costs, if these are more
than the amount of the benefit they receive.

The amount of money we have for these payments is subject to an
annual cash limit.

What DHP cannot be paid for?

We cannot award you a DHP for:

  • Fuel, water or sewerage charges if these are included in your rent.

  • Food charges for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Any rent you owe.

  • When your Housing or Council Tax Benefit payments are
    suspended.

  • Rent, if you are only entitled to Council Tax Benefit.

  • Council Tax, if you only get Housing Benefit.

  • If the only benefit you get is Second Adult Rebate.

Who can get a DHP?

If your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit is less than the amount of
your rent or Council Tax you must pay you can apply for a Discretionary
Housing Payment.




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How do I apply for a DHP?

You can only apply for a DHP if you are currently entitled to Housing or
Council Tax Benefit. Contact us on 01474 33 77 10 for an application
form.

We aim to acknowledge receipt of your request within 5 working days,
and give you a decision within 10 working days or as soon as is
reasonably practicable.

How do you decide if I can have a DHP?

Each case is considered individually. The more information you are able
to give us the easier it will be for us to decide and the quicker we will be
able to let you know if your request has been successful.

We look at the following things:

  • Your total income.

  • Your total savings.

  • If anyone else in your household can help you financially.

  • Your total outgoings.

  • If you have and loans or debts.

  • If you or anyone in your family is ill or disabled.

  • If you could manage your money better to ease the situation.

We will ask you for a lot of information and we may also ask you to
come in to discuss your claim in more detail.

We will send you a letter telling you our decision and our reasons for
that decision.



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How much help can I get and for how long?

How much you get depends on your circumstances. As we look at each
case individually we cannot guarantee we will definitely give you a
payment.

For Housing Benefit, we cannot give you more than your total rent (less
any amounts for services such as electricity or water).

For Council Tax Benefit, we cannot give you more than the amount of
your Council Tax.

If we award you a DHP we will write to you to confirm the amount you
have been awarded and how long we will pay it for.

If my request is successful how will you pay the DHP?

If you are awarded Discretionary Housing Payments to help pay your
rent we will usually pay it by the same method and time you are paid
your Housing Benefit. However, if you normally have your Housing
Benefit paid to your landlord, you can request that these payments go
directly to you.

If you are awarded Discretionary Housing Payments to help pay your
Council Tax we will credit your Council Tax account.

Our decision letter will explain this.




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What should I do if I disagree with your decision?

If you disagree with our decision not to give you a DHP, the amount we
have awarded you or how long we will give you a DHP for, you can ask
us to look at our decision again.

You should write to us within one calendar month of the date on the
decision letter, telling us why you do not agree with our decision.

However, as this is a discretionary scheme, there is no formal external
appeal procedure. We will carry out a reconsideration through our
internal appeal procedure.

What if my circumstances change?

You must tell us about any changes in you or your partner’s income,
investments, savings, benefits, as well as changes in your rent paid to a
private landlord. We also need to know if anyone leaves or joins your
household.

You should tell us in writing as soon as the change happens. We will
then look at the Discretionary Housing Payment we awarded and see
whether it needs to be changed.

If the change results in additional financial difficulties we may be able to
award more Discretionary Housing Payments. If the change means you
are better off we may end or reduce the payments.

For more information regarding change of circumstances see our leaflet
‘Changes you need to tell us about’.




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      Where Can I Get Help?

You can always phone us for help and advice. For details visit our
website www.gravesham.gov.uk or see the back of this leaflet.

You could also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter
Kent Housing Aid.

Citizens Advice Bureau
Gravesend
44 Windmill Street
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1BA
Call 01474 33 12 39

Shelter Kent (North)
Housing Aid Centre
2 Ordnance Street
Chatham
Kent
ME4 6SL

Shelter is a charitable organisation that offers independent housing aid
consisting of confidential advice, assistance and active support on a
wide range of housing problems. Their advice service is free of charge
and operates independently from Gravesham Borough Council.

Personal callers are dealt with between 10am and 1pm on Mondays and
Fridays, and between 2pm and 4.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The centre is also contactable by telephone.

A telephone advice line (01634 81 11 66) is available between the hours
of 10am and 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays, and
between 2pm and 4.30pm on Thursdays.

If you need to contact Shelter outside these hours, please ring the
number shown above and leave a message on the answer phone – a
housing adviser will contact you as soon as possible. Alternatively, call
the national free phone number Shelterline, 0808 80 04 444
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If you have any questions about your Housing Benefit or
Council Tax Benefit.

Phone us on: 01474 33 77 10
The telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

A service is available for minicom users on: 01474 33 76 17 (for
textphone users only)

Write to us at:
Benefit Section
Gravesham Borough Council
P.O. Box 80
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1ZQ

E-mail us at Housingbenefits@gravesham.gov.uk

Visit our Civic Centre office at the following times.
Monday to Friday 9am - 4.30pm

What if I want to comment on your service?

We value all comments regarding our service and would like to hear
from you as we are committed to providing a high quality and accessible
service.

All comments regarding this leaflet or any aspect of our service are
welcome. You can contact us in the following ways:

Visit us at the Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend.

Phone us on: 01474 33 77 10

Minicom users on: 01474 33 76 17

Email us at: Housingbenefits@gravesham.gov.uk
Switchboard                Minicom               Website
01474 56 44 22             01474 33 76 17        www.gravesham.gov.uk
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