Communities Minister Hargey announces greater support for private tenants facing a shortfall in their rent

Date published: 25 March 2022

Changes to housing payments announced by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today, will mean more support for private tenants facing a shortfall in their rent and the housing support they currently receive.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey

The changes to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) will also mean that privately renting claimants who lost the £20 UC uplift and who receive Universal Credit (UC) housing costs, can have their DHP award reviewed and increased in line with the new rules.

Anyone who has had a significant change in their income or circumstances can also have their payment reviewed.

Minister Hargey said:

“The changes I have approved will see a much more flexible approach to the awarding of Discretionary Housing Payments.

“Privately renting tenants in receipt of UC housing costs, who lost the £20 Universal Credit uplift, can have their payment reviewed and increased if eligible.

“I have removed the two year time limit on Discretionary Housing Payments and have made the 13-week protection payment for people new to benefits, a permanent fixture.

“The rate at which new awards are calculated will also be increased while a review will be carried out of all awards under £10 per week with those increased if appropriate.”

The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme, which is administered by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), will now be considered a long-term aid for those who require it which will help in sustaining tenancies.

Existing entitlement to Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit (UC) is a qualifying condition. Awards from the Scheme are discretionary and each application is considered on its own merits.

Minister Hargey continued,

“I am pleased that following an extensive review of the scheme, undertaken by my officials and representatives of the DHP working group, a much more flexible approach will be taken to the award of payments going forward.

“This approach will offer long-term support for people who require additional financial assistance, helping people meet their rental obligations and to maintain their tenancies.”

Anyone requiring advice or assistance with making an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment should contact NIHE at Email: Phone: 03448 920 902 - Lines open 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday or by writing to: The Housing Centre, 2 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8PB


Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors

  1. The DHP Scheme is administered by the NI Housing Executive (NIHE).
  2. The DHP Working Group was set up to consider the current use of the payment and assess how this could be improved to help more people and included representatives from the NIHE, The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) and Housing Rights and Law Centre NI.
  3. New awards will now be made up to a minimum of the 50th percentile of the Local Housing Allowance rate, which gives greater support to people living in the private rented sector.
  4. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office 
  5. Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow the Department on @CommunitiesNI

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