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Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary housing payments is a scheme, which in some instances, awards short-term further financial assistance:

  • where housing benefit or universal credit does not cover your full rent payments and
  • you are struggling to pay your rent

The scheme is to help out while you try to improve your financial circumstances or secure cheaper, alternative accommodation.

To get a discretionary payment towards your rent you must either:

  • be entitled to some housing benefit
  • be getting Universal Credit that includes something toward your housing costs

There is no right for anyone to receive a discretionary housing payment.

The discretionary housing payment scheme has a limited budget therefore each application will be considered on its own individual merits.

We will look at your income and expenditure to decide if you need extra financial support.

In some cases, a discretionary housing payment may be awarded to cover other housing costs.

Examples of when we might award a discretionary housing payment

  • if the rules say your home is too big for you but you have a good reason for needing the extra bedrooms
  • if you can't move to somewhere smaller or less expensive because someone in your family has serious health problems
  • if you can't move to somewhere smaller or less expensive and your current tenancy is at risk because you can't afford to pay the difference between your benefit and your rent
  • if your home has been adapted for you or a member of your family
  • if you are affected by the benefit cap

How to apply

You are unable to complete an application online but you can download and print an application for discretionary housing payment

Return your completed application by:

Email to:

Post to: People Services Directorate, P.O. Box 103, Sunderland West LDO, SR2 8YH

Applications can also be made by speaking to our Home and money team.

Full details of our discretionary housing payment policy (pdf).

Read our frequently asked questions (pdf) about DHP.

Find out how we use your information within the discretionary housing payment process (pdf).

If you would like further information, you may find the links below useful:

Where to get help with housing and finance

Where to get help to improve your mental health

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