Councils review DHP policies after court rules DLA can’t be included in income calculations

7 April 2015

Councils are reviewing their Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) policies after a disabled couple won a landmark case against Sandwell Council. The High Court overturned Sandwell Councils decision to offer lower DHPs to the ‘bedroom tax’ hit couple, as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) payments had been included in income calculations.

Discretionary Housing Payments are awarded from a pot of money held by councils, to help housing benefit recipients who are struggling financially, including with rent shortfalls.

Disability Living Allowance is a benefit which helps with the extra costs of living with a disability or health condition. It is tax free, not means-tested and will be paid regardless of employment status or income, including on top of other benefits.

The judgement said: “The council’s policy of always taking into account DLA as income when assessing awards of DHP, as reflected in the Sandwell policy, fails to have due regard to the DHP guidance, constitutes a failure to exercise the council’s discretion and fetters any future exercise of that discretion.”

This is not a blanket ban on considering DLA income but means routine consideration when calculating DHP awards is unlawful.

Inside Housing has the full story.