Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment?

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a special payment made to individuals who need extra help with their housing costs (rent).

DHPs are not part of the normal Housing Benefit scheme. They are funded by Central Government on a yearly basis and the money available is limited. For this reason, the Council will only grant help to people who have special circumstances which make it difficult for them to pay their rent.

You can apply for Discretionary Financial Assistance if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal Credit(UC). Please do not apply before you know that you are entitled to one of these benefits.

You cannot claim a DHP for help with rent if you only get Council Tax Reduction, but you may be eligible for a Discretionary Council Tax Reduction.

What can a Discretionary Housing Payment help with?

We can consider a DHP to help cover any shortfall between your rent liability and the amount of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (UC) that does not cover the rent you have to pay.

The sort of things we can help with are:

  • If the rent charged by your landlord is more than the amount allowed by Housing Benefit (HB) or the Housing Element of Universal Credit (UCHE).
  • If your benefit has been reduced because your income is above the level of a means tested benefit such as Income Support.
  • If your benefit has been reduced because a non-dependant lives in your home and they can’t help you with the shortfall.

A Discretionary Housing Payment cannot be awarded to help with the following:

  • Service charges that are not covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (UHEC), such as fuel charges
  • Charges for water or sewerage services
  • Deductions in benefit as a result of benefit sanctions
  • Deductions in respect of overpaid Housing Benefit

Can I get help with a deposit or the cost of moving?

If your move is essential, for example if you need to move home to reduce your outgoings, take up a definite offer of employment or because you are at risk of being made homeless, a Discretionary Housing Payment may be able to help with:

  • deposits
  • a contribution towards other costs associated with a housing need such as removal costs

When considering whether we can help with the move we will also take into account the suitability of the accommodation you wish to move to. We will look at factors such as the size and location of the property, the reasons for moving and the cost of the accommodation.

We are unlikely to award a Discretionary Housing Payment if; 

  • you wish to move from a Housing Association property to private rented accommodation (unless there is a good reason to move), 
  • the current property meets your needs and you wish to move to a more expensive property,
  • the only reason you want to move is to be closer to a particular school, 
  • the property you wish to move to is bigger than you need or is more expensive than other suitable properties with the same number of bedrooms,
  • you are able to finance the move yourself. 
  • you have already received help with moving costs within a 12-month period.

If we make a payment for a deposit you will not be granted another Discretionary Hardship Payment for a deposit unless the circumstances are exceptional.

What do you take into consideration when considering a DHP?

We need to decide if you can meet the cost of the move or any shortfall between your rent and benefit yourself from your income, savings or capital.

We take into consideration elements such as:

  • Your income, for example, earnings, other benefits, pensions, maintenance
  • Any savings or capital you have that may cover the shortfall for a period or you can put towards the cost of moving.
  • Any disregarded income, for example, Child Benefit
  • Any contribution made by a non-dependant
  • Outgoings, for example loan repayments, fares to work, child minding fees, HP for essential items, extra expenses connected with a disability such as extra travel costs
  • Whether it is possible for you to reduce your outgoings
  • Whether it is possible for you to move to more affordable accommodation
  • How long it will take you to find suitable alternative accommodation
  • Possibility of eviction
  • Mental health issues that have impacted on your ability to manage your finances. 

This is guidance only. We treat every case on its own merits and may also be able to take into account other factors that we have not mentioned here.

How long can a Discretionary Housing Payment be paid for?

DHPs are usually awarded for a set period and this may vary from case to case. The length of time of the first award of a DHP is based on the amount of time we think it will take you to find a long term solution to the problem. For example if your rent is high, we may pay a DHP while you look for alternative accommodation.

What to do I do not agree with the decision?

If you apply and do not agree with our decision, you can ask for our decision to be looked at again. DHPs cannot be appealed in the same way as Housing Benefit decisions. We will initially review our decision if you ask us to. If you are still not satisfied after this, we can set up an internal panel to review the decision.

How do I apply?

You will need to complete our online DHP application form.

We will need to see your last 2 months bank statements and may need to see evidence of any additional expenditure that you have, such as loans. We may need to talk to you by phone if we need more information. 


Discretionary Financial Assistance Policy