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Applying for Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a payment from the council to help with renting and housing costs. You can get it if your benefits do not cover all your rent, or you're affected by the bedroom tax.

DHP can be a one-off or a regular payment. The council will decide how much you can get and for how long.

Who can get Discretionary Housing Payment

You can apply for DHP if you get the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, but your benefits do not cover the full cost of your rent.

This is sometimes called a benefits shortfall.

The council should always agree to give you DHP if your benefits are affected by the bedroom tax.

They can also decide to give it to you for other reasons, including if you cannot afford your rent because of:

What Discretionary Housing Payment can be used for

DHP can help to pay for:

  • some or all of the rent that’s not covered by your benefits

  • tenancy deposits and rent in advance

  • moving costs

  • rent arrears caused by a benefits shortfall

DHP will not affect your other benefits because it's not included in the benefit cap.

You cannot get DHP to pay council tax, or if you're short on rent because you're paying back an overpayment of benefits.

How to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment

Apply by contacting your local council.

You can find your council's website on

When you apply, give as much detail as you can about why you need DHP. For example, tell the council if:

  • your benefits are affected by the bedroom tax, benefit cap, Local Housing Allowance, or non-dependant deductions

  • you have any disabilities that affect your living costs

  • you have caring responsibilities that affect your costs

  • your rent shortfall is putting you at risk of becoming homeless

  • you’re struggling because of an unexpected event such as sickness, redundancy, relationship breakdown or bereavement

You may need to give evidence, such as doctor’s letters.

If the council agrees to give you DHP

They should tell you:

  • how much you'll get

  • when you'll get the payment

  • how long you'll keep getting the payment

You’ll usually get DHP for a set number of months. After that, you can apply again if you still need the payments. The council will not automatically renew your payments or remind you.

Put a reminder in your calendar to re-apply when the payments end. If you’re not sure when you need to re-apply, ask the council.

If your application is turned down

You can ask the council to review the decision. Each council has its own review process.

Contact Citizens Advice for help getting a review. A benefits adviser can help you give the right evidence.

If the review is unsuccessful the council should explain why in writing. A benefits adviser can help you decide if you should challenge this further.

Last updated: 21 April 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England