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 or the housing element of Universal Credit.

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.

You can approach the service to receive further advice and information about your housing situation by contacting the Housing Operations Team on 01635 519 530 and choose option 2. Alternatively, you contact us by e-mail on housing@westberks.gov.uk

Who can claim a DHP?
Anyone who is currently receiving Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit 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 or Universal Credit following the removal of the spare room subsidy
  • reduction of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit due to reductions in the Local Housing Allowance
  • reductions of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit 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 cannot help with:

  • 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 or Universal Credit overpayment recovery

Applying for a DHP
You can apply for a DHP by downloading the application form  doc icon Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Application form [605kb]

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 or as a direct payment if you are in receipt of Universal Credit. The payment will usually 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?
A dedicated DHP officer will 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 Senior Housing Officer within 21 days of receipt of the decision letter.

What if your circumstances change?
As part of receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you must keep the Benefits Team (or DWP if you are in receipt of Universal Credit) as well as the Housing Service, informed of any changes in your circumstances as they may affect the amount of benefit you receive. Any changes must be notified in writing.

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

Who To Contact