Discretionary housing payment spending and activity

Assessing and spending discretionary housing payments

This page is a snapshot of our discretionary housing payment (DHP) activity taken on 2 March 2018. We update this page monthly.

DHP spend

Our DHP grant from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) for 2017/18 is £509,495.

  • We have spent £489,981
  • We have agreed future payments of £31,876
  • We have spent and agreed future payments of £521,857
  • This means we have spent £12,362 more than our DWP grant 
  • Changes to the benefit cap in November and December 2016 mean that 220 households in Oxford are now losing an average of £61.62 a week from their housing benefit    


We have made decisions on 738 DHP applications in 2017/18.

  • 593 applications were successful (80%)
  • 145 applications were unsuccessful (20%)


A review happens when a customer is not happy with our decision and asks us to look at it again. 

  • 4 applications were successful, and we changed our decision (403%)
  • 6 applications were unsuccessful, and we upheld our decision (60%)

Outstanding work

  • 25 DHP applications are waiting for a decision
  • Of these, 1 is waiting to be allocated to a caseworker for a decision, and this was received on 1 March
  • No review applications were waiting for a decision
  • See the Welfare Reform Team homepage for more information about how long we are taking to make decisions on DHP applications and reviews

Conditions of DHP awards

As part of their DHP award, we agree with our customers what they can do to improve their financial situation so that they do not need our help in future. We also arrange the support they need to do this. This could include help to find work or to deal with their debts.

Top 5 conditions of DHP awards Applications  %
 Find work  225  24% 
 Apply for another benefit   140  15%
 Engage with a support service  104  11%
 Prepare for work  102  11%
 Get debt advice  86  9%

Reasons for refusing DHP

Usually, the most common reason we turn down DHP applications is because customers don’t have a plan to improve their situation. We make very few DHP awards where customers don’t need to do anything as part of their DHP agreement.

 Top 5 reasons for refusing DHP  Applications
 Application does not meet our DHP policy criteria   19  13% 
 DHP would not sustain the tenancy (for example, the landlord will not agree to stop an eviction)  17  12% 
 Housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs pay the rent in full   16  11% 
 Customer has no long term plan to reduce their reliance on DHP  13  9%
 Not entitled to a DHP as not in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs element  13  9% 

Tenants who apply for DHP

Oxford is one of the most unaffordable places in England to rent from a private landlord. High rents mean that private tenants are likely to face the benefit cap or other housing benefit shortfalls. 

 Tenancy type  Applications  %
 Council tenant  182  36%
 Housing association  84  17%
 Home Choice  76  15%
 Private rented (not Home Choice)  165  33%

Why tenants apply for DHP

Customers apply for DHP because their housing benefit (or housing element of Universal Credit) doesn't cover their full rent in full. We look at why this is the case.

Reason for application  Applications %
 Customer affected by benefit cap  216  43%
 Customer affected by bedroom tax  104  21%
 Local housing allowance restrictions  137  27%
 Combination of welfare reforms  1  0%
 Other reasons not related to welfare reform (eg non dependant deductions)  49  10%