What is Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)?

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are additional payments to people who are in receipt of housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit to help with their housing costs. Payments are made where the council believes that someone is in extra financial need with their housing costs. The council receives an annual allocation from the Government and sets a maximum which can be spent.

You can apply for a DHP by completing the form (see Need more information). Only in exceptional circumstances will the council consider an application without the form being completed. The form asks the questions which the council needs answered in order to make a decision.

Each application is considered on its merits and there are no blanket provisions for including or excluding any relevant factor, whether financial, social or medical. The one exception to this is that the council will not include disability living allowance (mobility element) as part of your income as section 73(14) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 specifically precludes the council from doing so.

The council has set out a policy (see Need more information on this page) which has a set of aims, linked in with the council’s strategic objectives, in order to help make decisions of limited amounts available for DHPs. A more detailed set of criteria has been set out to help officers make decisions (also see Need more information). It must be stressed that the aims and criteria are guides to help decision making, but if a claimant does come under one or more of the expressed aims or criteria they will not automatically result in an award of DHP. The benefit client officers must take into account the claimant’s circumstances as a whole.   

In administering the DHP scheme, the council will act in accordance with the relevant legislation (the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001).

There are some costs that the DHP scheme will not cover - certain charges ineligible for housing benefit such as water rates (the full list is to be found in regulation 3 of the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 above). DHPs cannot be paid for periods where there is no housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit in payment.

DHPs can be paid as either a lump sum or as a weekly payment. Housing benefit already paid will be deducted from any calculation of the amount paid as ignoring housing benefit paid will be paying housing costs twice. All DHPs must be calculated by reference to a weekly shortfall even if they are paid as a lump sum.