West Berkshire Council

Discretionary Housing Payment

Short term financial assistance and help with housing costs

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are sums of money given out to help people with housing costs over a short-term period.  They're made at the discretion of our housing service where it's considered that an applicant is in need. DHPs are free-standing and separate - they're not payments of Housing Benefit.

We're given an amount of money by the government to fund DHPs each year and can't legally spend more than that limit. 

We carefully consider each case on its own merit and take a number of different factors into account when deciding whether to grant a DHP, how much it's for and how long it will be paid.  The decision we make depends on your circumstances and what the money will be used for.

Please note that if you don't tell us something in your application which would otherwise have affected our decision to give you a payment, you may be asked to repay the DHP.

Who can claim a DHP?

Anyone who is currently receiving Housing Benefit and needs further financial assistance with housing costs can make a claim for a DHP.

What can a DHP help with?

DHPs can help with, for example:

  • reduction of Housing Benefit following the removal of the spare room subsidy
  • reduction of Housing Benefit due to reductions in the Local Housing Allowance
  • reductions of Housing Benefit where the benefit cap has been applied
  • rent shortfall - to prevent a household becoming homeless whilst the housing service explores alternative options
  • rent deposits, help with rent in advance or to pay removal costs if you need to move to a smaller or cheaper property, and are able to demonstrate that you can't afford this on your own

DHPs don't cover:

  • ineligible service charges
  • increases in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • certain sanctions or reductions in Department for Work and Pensions benefits
  • shortfalls caused by Housing Benefit overpayment recovery

Applying for a DHP

You can apply for a DHP by downloading the application form.

If you need further help, please get in touch with the Housing Options Team

What information needs to be provided?

For your application to be successful, our housing service must be able to be sure that you need extra help with your housing costs.  This will normally involve comparing your income and expenditure, so you will need to be able to provide evidence to help prove your case.

How long can a DHP be paid for?

There is no time limit for how long a DHP can be paid.  However we can't spend more than the annual limit set by the government. A DHP is paid for a set period, but when that runs out you are welcome to re-apply if your circumstances are the same. However, if your circumstances change during the set period your DHP may stop or change as a result.

How is a DHP paid?

DHPs are paid along with your Housing Benefit.  The payment will be sent to you (or your landlord if you are receiving direct payment) alongside your regular benefit payment.

What happens when an application is received?

Two officers review the application and make a decision.  Each case will be decided on its own merits and decision making will be monitored for consistency throughout the year.  We'll write to you to let you know our decision, the reasons for it and what happens next

What if you disagree with our decision?

You can't appeal to the Courts and Tribunals Service if you disagree with a decision not to pay you DHP.  However, you can ask us to look at our decision again if you're able to provide new information that might help your application.

Requests for a review of a decision should be made in writing and marked for the attention of the Housing Operations and Strategy Manager within 21 days of our decision.

What if your circumstances change?

As part of receiving Housing Benefit, you must keep the benefits team informed of any changes in your circumstances as they may affect the amount of benefit you receive. As long as you continue to comply with your duty to notify the benefits team of any change, the information you provide will be passed to our Housing Service to be taken into account when considering your DHP application and payments.

Need more advice?

You can contact us, or get independent advice from organisations such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

Who To Contact