What is a Discretionary Housing Payment? (DHP)
A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is an extra payment to help people who are struggling to pay their rent.
Each local council is given a pot of money for DHP’s each year and is allowed to decide who should be given the payments. The government has increased the amount of money available to help people adjust to changes in benefits that have been made in recent years.
Who can get a DHP?
The council decides who should be given a DHP.
A DHP can be paid to you if:
- you already get housing benefit (or universal credit that includes a payment towards your rent)
- there is a shortfall between the housing benefit (or universal credit) you receive and the rent you have to pay yourself, and
- you are having difficulty paying the shortfall.
This can include where your housing benefit (or universal credit) has been reduced due to recent changes in the benefit laws, such as the ‘bedroom tax’, the ‘benefit cap’ or changes to the rules in local housing allowance. It may also be paid if your housing benefit has reduced because of a non-dependent deduction being applied (eg: for grown up children living with you).
In certain situations, a DHP can also be paid to cover a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs for a property that you are yet to move into. Your local council may make a payment to help prevent you becoming homeless. In some situations, payments can also be made to help with rent arrears.
The council will usually take into account any special circumstances that contribute to your financial difficulties, for example;
- you have to pay child maintenance
- you have to pay legal costs
- you have extra heating costs because you spend a lot of time at home because you are sick or disabled
- you have additional travel costs because you travel to a doctor or hospital or you care for a relative or friend
- your work-related travel costs have increased because you had to move as a result of cuts to local housing allowance or the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, or
- you are likely to become homeless if a payment is not made.
How much is a DHP?
The council will decide how much and how often any DHP is made. It may be paid weekly or can be a lump sum. Payments can be backdated. You do not have to repay a DHP.
A DHP is usually paid for a fixed period of time – if this is the case, the council should make it clear to you when the payment will end. In some circumstances, it might be appropriate for the council to make you a long-term award (for example, if you are living in a property that has been significantly adapted for your disability and your housing benefit has been reduced because of the bedroom tax).
If your circumstances change whilst you are receiving a DHP then you should tell the council about those changes so that they can review the payment.
How can I claim?
Every council deals with their claims for DHPs differently but, wherever you apply, you will probably have to fill in a claim form.
To find your local council and how to claim a DHP in your area, please enter your postcode in the box below and click the find button.
If you do not know your postcode, click here.
What information should I send with the claim?
You will probably be asked to give evidence of your income, outgoings and any capital (ie: savings). You may have to provide copies of your household bills, such as rent, water, electricity or gas. You should also provide any information about your circumstances that make things difficult for you financially, for example, travel to work costs.
If you receive disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) make sure you explain if you are using those benefits to pay for things related to your disability. The council should then not take them into account.
The council should always act reasonably when asking you for information to support your application. If you think they are acting unreasonably, seek advice.
If I don’t get it, can I appeal?
The council should issue their decision on your claim in writing. The letter should set out their reasons for their decision.
If you disagree with the decision you should ask the council to look at it again. If the council refuse to look at it again or do not change their mind there is no legal right of appeal, although the council could be challenged by judicial review if they have acted unreasonably in dealing with your claim. If you think this applies then seek advice straight away. In cases where there has been some maladministration you may be able to complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.