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What are Discretionary Housing Payments?

Adele MacGregor

Written by

28th Oct 2022 (Last updated on 6th Dec 2022) 4 minute read

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a discretionary and short-term payment. Sometimes referred to as a DWP Moving House Grant, it helps those on Housing Benefits or Universal Credit with their housing costs.

The DHP is a “top-up” benefit to help those struggling the most with housing expenses. This includes rent advance if you are moving home. DHP is awarded to individuals by the local council and the payment is not taxable.

There was a reported 2.6 million claimants of housing benefits in the UK as of May 2022. With the cost of living continuing to rise, the need for DHP has increased. Below we look at what the Discretionary Housing Payment is, who is eligible and what it can be used for.
This article will cover the following:
  1. Can I Claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?
  2. What is the Eligibility Criteria?
  3. How Do I Claim?
  4. How Much Discretionary Housing Payment Will I Get?
  5. Can I Challenge the Amount of DHP I’ve Been Given?
  6. What Other Financial Help is Available When Moving House?

Can I Claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?

Recent changes to benefits in the UK have left many people in need of additional financial help. DHP can help people with housing costs, including those affected by:

  • The benefit cap
  • The removal of the spare room subsidy in the socially rented sector
  • Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates

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What is the Eligibility Criteria?

To be eligible for a DHP you must be in receipt of Housing Benefits or Universal Credit. DHP is given if there is a shortfall between the amount of benefit or credit you receive and your housing costs

Your local authority decides if you can claim DHP. However, there are criteria you need to meet regardless of where you are. You must be old enough to have a legally enforceable liability for rent. You must also meet the age rules for Housing Benefits or Universal Credit.

Once you have enquired and applied for DHP, your local council will consider your application, looking at:

  • Your total income
  • Whether you have savings
  • Whether anyone else in the home can help financially
  • Whether you have loans or debts to pay
  • Whether you could rearrange your finances to help your situation
  • Whether you or your family have any exceptional circumstances like ill health or disability
  • Whether you have attempted to remedy the situation yourself

How Do I Claim?

To claim a DHP you must submit an application to your Local Authority. This is usually your local council. Each council will decide how its own application process will work.

To see if you are eligible, your council will review your individual circumstances. This enables them to decide the following:

  • Whether to award you DHP
  • How much you will be paid
  • For how long you will receive the payment

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How Much Discretionary Housing Payment Will I Get?

How much you get and for how long will be decided by your local council. What they award you will depend on your individual circumstances.

According to Turn2Us, there is no limit to the length of time over which DHPs can be made. Your payment could be a one-off to help you short-term, or it could be an indefinite award. The payment will either be made directly to you or to your landlord.

What Can It Cover?

The amount the local councils give you could cover all or part of your shortfall in rent. It can also help with the costs of taking up a tenancy. This includes:

  • Rent deposits
  • Rent shortfall
  • Rent in advance if you need to move home

Be aware that a DHP cannot cover council tax, even if you get Local Council Tax Support.

Can I Challenge the Amount of DHP I’ve Been Given?

If you feel the council’s decision is wrong, you can ask them to review their decision. They will respond in writing with their decision and reasoning. If you are unhappy with how your request has been handled, you can also submit a complaint to your council.

Be aware that there is no right of appeal against a DHP decision. Occasionally you may be able to apply for a Judicial Review in the High Court. This will require seeking legal advice so keep this in mind before proceeding.

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What Other Financial Help is Available When Moving House?

As we have mentioned, to apply for a DHP you must be a recipient of either Housing Benefits or Universal Credit. These are designed to help those in most financial need across the country.

Additional help available includes:

  • Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is available for those who need help paying their mortgage or need a loan for repairs to their home.
  • A Short-Term Benefit Advance (STBA) can be applied for if you qualify for Universal Credit but are yet to receive your first payment. Be aware that the repayments for a STBA will be taken from later benefits.
  • The Disabled Relocation Grant. This is available to those with a disability when it's not possible to make their current home safe and accessible. The grants are awarded by the local authority and assessed by an occupational therapist or community care worker.
  • Local Welfare Assistance can be sought from the local council. The Local Assistance Scheme is for councils to decide how to spend. Some will use it to help residents with moving costs.

For more information on the help, you can receive when moving house read our article: Financial Help with Moving House Costs.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over four years, Adele covers topics such as the conveyancing process across the UK, property surveys, home moves and storage.

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