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The Discretionary Housing Payments Scheme (DHP)

The Discretionary Housing Payments Scheme (DHP)

The Discretionary Housing Payments Scheme (DHP) is funded by Central Government and administered by local councils.   

The Government provide Sunderland City Council with a limited budget each financial year to be used for DHP awards, once this budget has been used, no further awards can be made in that year unless additional funding can be agreed from other sources.  The Government also provide a maximum limit on what each council can spend on DHP. 

A DHP may be awarded in some instances where the applicant requires further financial assistance towards their housing costs. For the majority of applicants an award is intended to be short term financial support for up to  26 weeks . 

To qualify for a DHP you must be getting paid either Universal Credit with Housing Costs (UC) or Housing Benefit (HB). 

A DHP may help towards a shortfall where your UC or HB does not cover your full eligible rent, but it may very occasionally be awarded to help with other housing costs.  Please see our DHP frequently asked questions for further details. 

The DHP scheme aims to provide short term financial support, allowing the applicant some time to look at improving their financial circumstances, their employment situation and/or the opportunity to secure cheaper alternative accommodation. .

As the DHP scheme has a limited budget, each DHP application is considered on its own individual merits within the context of the council's DHP Policy. Unfortunately, the available DHP funding means that the council cannot continue to provide longer term support via more DHP awards to as many applicants as it has been doing , even where the applicant is making improvements

If you are struggling to make your money last or are worried about how you will pay your bills, there are a range of free services available providing advice on benefits, debt and money management, housing options.  Find out where you can get get help and advice in Sunderland. There is also a much wider range of support on our Financial wellbeing support hub.

A financial assessment will be carried out to determine your eligibility for a DHP, and we will also consider any actions you are taking or have taken to improve your circumstances, any significant barriers to making changes , or any factors that mean you cannot move home .

When reviewing your DHP application we will look at your income and expenditure to decide if you qualify for extra financial support.

Evidence supporting your application will be requested, this may include proof of income, savings and expenditure details . Details of medical or similar evidence will also be requested to explain the difficulties you are facing and why in a very limited number of situations this means you have to stay in your current accommodation

Answers to some commonly asked questions, including information on eligibility and details of what a DHP can and can't cover, can be found in our DHP frequently asked questions.

Full details of our DHP scheme can be found in our Discretionary Housing Payments Policy - April 2024

How to apply

·         First, check your eligibility for a DHP by reading 'Would I qualify for a DHP to cover a shortfall in my rent?' in our DHP frequently asked questions

·         If you feel you may be eligible for a DHP you can complete an  online application Discretionary Housing Payment Form

·         if you are unable to do this you can  complete an application over the telephone by contacting our Home and Money Team on 0191 520 5551

When completing the form, it is best to have the following details to hand:

•              Identity and National Insurance numbers

•              Income and earnings

•              Savings and capital

•              Household details

•              Rent and tenancy details


The application form should be fully completed and providing as much detail as possible. We may ask you to provide evidence of some of this information in support of your application, for example statements verifying savings / capital or medical evidence.

Where you have given details in your application of any reasons that limit your ability to make improvements or do mean that you cannot move somewhere else ( for example serious medical / health issues or complex needs and having significant support in place it is important to provide as much information as possible about these.

Your application may be delayed or refused if you do not provide information requested. The council will normally also contact you and discuss your application with you before any award would be made

For further information on how the Council uses your personal information, please refer to our Privacy Notice on the Council Website.

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