Discretionary housing payments
What are discretionary housing payments (DHPs)?
Discretionary housing payments (DHPs) are extra payments to help people pay their rent. We give DHPs to people receiving housing benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit who need more help with their housing costs.
DHPs are paid in addition to your housing benefit or Universal Credit entitlement. As discretionary housing payments are not payments of benefit, we are able to decide who to give this extra help to, and how much to give.
The amount we can spend on discretionary housing payments is limited. Once this money has been used up we will not be able to give extra payments.
Who can apply for discretionary housing payments?
You can only apply for a DHP if you are currently entitled to housing benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit. There are no set circumstances, but you will need to prove that you are in need of further help.
We can also accept an application from someone acting on your behalf, if it is reasonable to do so.
Discretionary housing payments for help with rent deposits and rent in advance
You may be able to get a discretionary housing payment (DHP) to help meet rent in advance or a rent deposit. There are limited funds of DHP available so this type of award will only be made to those most in need.
You should only apply for a DHP for help with rent in advance or a rent deposit once you have found a property and the landlord or agent agrees that you can rent it. You should not commit to a tenancy until your DHP has been agreed.
We can only give DHPs to people receiving housing benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit.
If you are receiving Universal Credit but don’t get the housing costs element, you won’t be able to get a DHP to help with rent in advance or deposit.
If you currently receive housing benefit and need help to move to somewhere more suitable, you may be able to get a DHP. You must complete a change of address form at the same time as making a DHP application. Without this we will not be able to award you a DHP.
You will need to provide a letter from the new landlord detailing the address of the property, accommodation details, the amount of rent due and the amount of rent in advance and/or deposit required.
What are we unable to give discretionary housing payments for?
- Help with council tax.
- Service charges not covered by housing benefit.
- Increases in rent due to outstanding rent arrears.
- If we take any amount from your housing benefit because your Jobseeker's Allowance has been sanctioned (has not been paid because you have broken the terms of your claim).
- When your housing benefit or Universal Credit payments are suspended.
How much could you get and for how long?
How much we can give you depends on your circumstances. We look at each case individually. Discretionary housing payments are normally paid on a temporary basis and can start and stop at any time during your claim. We cannot guarantee that you will definitely receive payment.
We cannot give you more than your total rent less amounts for services such as electricity or water.
We will usually pay the discretionary housing payment with any housing benefit you get, although this is not a benefit payment.
How we decide if you can have a discretionary housing payment
If you want to apply for a DHP you will need to fill in an application form. The form will allow you to write down the reasons why you think you need extra help. You will also need to fill in a form to show the money you have coming in and the money you spend.
We look at the following when we make a decision:
- your income
- your savings
- if anyone else in your house can help you
- if you have any loans or debts
- if you could manage your money better
- if you or anyone in your family is ill or disabled; and
- if you have tried to put the situation right.
We will ask you for a lot of information and may ask you to come and see us to discuss your claim in more detail.
We will send you a letter telling you our decision and our reasons for that decision.
If your circumstances change
If your circumstances change, you must tell us in writing straight away.
We will look at your discretionary housing payment again to see if we need to change it.
If the change means we have to reduce your DHP, you might have to pay back some or all of the DHP we have already paid you.
If you disagree with the decision
If you disagree with our decision not to give you a discretionary housing payment, the amount we have decided to give you or how long we will give you a DHP for, you can ask us to look at the 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.
You cannot appeal to the Tribunals Service if you disagree with our decision not to pay you a discretionary housing payment.