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Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment?

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a short-term payment from the Council to help cover some of your housing costs. You may get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help pay your rent if your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn't cover it all. You may also need help with the cost of moving to smaller, more suitable alternative accommodation such as removal costs, rent in advance or deposit. It is also available for low income households where help is needed with the cost of moving to smaller, more suitable alternative accommodation such as removal costs, rent in advance or deposit.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is funded from a special fund of money which is allocated to us each year from Government. The fund is limited and once spent, no more DHPs can be awarded. 


To be considered for a Discretionary Housing Payment you must:

  • Be entitled to Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit that includes a housing element towards housing liability   
  • Satisfy the Council that further financial assistance (in addition to the benefit or benefits to which they are entitled) is required in order to meet housing costs
  • Have an assessed weekly income no more than 110 percent of assessed weekly essential expenditure
  • In the case of requests for removal costs, rent deposit and rent in advance, where one-off payments could be made, we would look to see the affordability of the charges, for example where funds are needed urgently to secure accommodation and/or facilitate a move. Bullet points 1 and 2, above, still apply, however the assessed weekly income may exceed the 110 percent buffer but the main consideration in an award for removal costs, rent in advance and rent deposit is the overall affordability including the sustainability of rent payments going forward

Are you currently claiming any benefits?

You may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you currently claim Housing Benefit or  Universal Credit that includes the Housing element, and

  • Your rent shortfall is caused by the Benefit Cap
  • Your rent shortfall is caused by the Spare Room Subsidy (bedroom tax)
  • Your rent shortfall is a result of changes from April 2013 in Local Housing Allowance
  • You need a deposit for a rental agreement for more suitable accommodation 
  • You move house and need help with moving expenses when moving to more suitable accommodation
  • Any other shortfall, e.g. non-dependent deductions

Discretionary Housing Payments can't cover:

  • A shortfall if Housing Benefit has been reduced to recover an over-payment or because other benefits have been reduced, (such as sanctions), for example, because you left your last job voluntarily
  • The cost of any services which are not eligible for help under the Housing Benefit or Universal credit schemes such as ineligible service charges, water and sewerage, fuel and heating charges
  • Increase in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • Sanctions and reductions in benefit (normally relating to previous fraudulent activity)
  • Discretionary Housing Payments can't be paid towards the cost of Council Tax

To apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment complete our:

When will I get a decision about my application?

We will give you a decision within 10 working days of receiving your completed claim and all evidence being received, where possible.

We assess all Discretionary Housing Payment applications based on the following 

  • Whether you can demonstrate further financial assistance is needed in order to meet housing costs in addition to the benefits or Universal Credit that you already receive
  • If you receive Housing Benefit, be in receipt of the minimum amount possible, or have the Housing element included in your Universal Credit
  • You have an assessed weekly income of no more than 110 percent of your assessed weekly essential expenditure
  • If awarded due to a shortfall caused by a non-dependent deduction, the income of the non-dependent will be considered along with the reason why they are not making or are unable to make a financial contribution to the household costs. A non-dependent could be an adult member of the household (excluding you or your partner), for example grown up children or relatives
  • No award will exceed the difference between the assessed weekly income and assessed weekly expenditure unless it is a one-off award for removal costs/rent deposit/rent in advance where affordability is looked at or an additional sum towards rent, providing award does not exceed the rent charged but could be up to 100 percent of any shortfall of benefit compared to the full eligible rent and would assist in resolving a short term issue
  • Different types of claim may demand different support levels and lengths of award
  • Where appropriate, we may decide to apply a taper to reduce the amount of Discretionary Housing Payment received where you could be reasonably expected to address the issues surrounding the need for claiming
  • There will be no limit on the number of repeat applications where a positive award has been made
  • Repeat claims previously refused within the last 6 months for the same situation will not be allowed
  • Any award is seen ideally as being a temporary assistance with the aim being to allow you time to assess and change your circumstances and to be able to financially support yourself going forward Recommendations may be made to help address specific areas, and where such recommendations are not heeded, conditionality could be applied for any future applications for assistance

Read our Discretionary Housing Payment Priority List (PDF document) for more details.

Your Discretionary Housing Payment will be paid along with your normal Housing Benefit payments. For Universal Credit recipients, you will be paid in the most appropriate manner deemed by the authority and in accordance with Department for Work and Pensions guidance.

One-off payments

For one-off Discretionary Housing Payments (e.g. help with moving costs), we will decide the most appropriate method of payment which may be to a third party such as a removal firm.

If you receive Discretionary Housing Payments and your circumstances change, your payments may come to an early end. If this is the case you will need to re-apply if you wish to continue to receive this help. Please report all changes in your circumstances as soon as possible, such as

  • Changes in your household e.g. someone moving in or out
  • Changes in income – for any member of your household
  • Changes in rent liability
  • A change of address

This list is not exhaustive. If you are not sure, contact us for further information.

If you disagree with our decision, you can ask for it to be looked at again within 1 month of the decision being made.


If you don’t agree with our decision, whether it is a refusal or award, you can ask us to look again at the decision, or make an appeal. You must do so in writing within 1 month of the decision being made, setting out why you think our decision is wrong and giving us any additional information you can. It will then be reviewed by a different officer to the one who made the original decision. The officer will look at the case and decide whether to change the outcome or leave the original decision in place. Where the original decision remains unchanged a final review will be carried out by either the Service Manager - Assessments, or the Head of Finance.

Because the fund is discretionary, it is outside of the normal scope of Housing Benefit and Department for Work and Pensions appeal rules so you can't make an appeal to the Tribunal Service. Read our Discretionary Housing Payments Policy (PDF document) to find out more.


Debt advice

For advice about debt visit the following websites

Other sources of help

If you are a tenant of a registered social landlord, such as Wokingham Borough Council, Housing Solutions, A2 Dominion, Sovereign etc., you may be able to access additional support through a Tenancy Support or Sustainment Officer, or Financial Inclusion Officer within your landlords’ organisation. Contact your landlord directly for further information.

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