Last updated:

9th April 2024

Discretionary Housing Payments

Find out about Discretionary Housing Payments to help with housing costs

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment?

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a short-term payment from the Council to help cover some of your housing costs. If you have been awarded Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (which includes and allowance for housing element), but this does not cover your full rent, you can ask us to consider giving you extra financial help, known as discretionary housing payment. If you are suffering financial hardship or your tenancy is at risk, you may be able to get help from the DHP fund.

The most we can pay is the difference between the benefit you are already receiving and your eligible housing costs.

It is also available for low-income households where help is needed with the cost of moving to smaller, more suitable alternative accommodation such as removal costs, rent in advance or deposit.

There is no fixed rate for discretionary payments and all payments are calculated on your individual circumstances.  Payments are usually made as a short-term measure for those experiencing difficult circumstances to assist them.

All DHP applications are assessed on individual circumstances and will not cover arrears of any kind.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is funded from a special fund of money which is allocated to us each year from Government. The fund is limited and once spent, no more DHPs can be awarded. 


To be considered for a Discretionary Housing Payment you must:

  • Be entitled to Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit that includes a housing element towards housing liability
  • Satisfy the Council that further financial assistance (in addition to the benefit or benefits to which they are entitled) is required in order to meet housing costs. A declaration of income and expenditure will be required within the application form

Are you currently claiming any benefits?

You may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you currently claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit that includes the Housing element, and

  • Your rent shortfall is caused by the Benefit Cap
  • Your rent shortfall is caused by the Spare Room Subsidy (bedroom tax)
  • Your rent shortfall is a result of changes from April 2013 in Local Housing Allowance
  • You need a deposit for a rental agreement for more suitable accommodation 
  • You move house and need help with moving expenses when moving to more suitable accommodation
  • Any other shortfall, e.g. non-dependent deductions

Discretionary Housing Payments can't cover:

  • A shortfall if Housing Benefit has been reduced to recover an over-payment or because other benefits have been reduced, (such as sanctions), for example, because you left your last job voluntarily
  • The cost of any services which are not eligible for help under the Housing Benefit or Universal credit schemes such as ineligible service charges, water and sewerage, fuel and heating charges
  • Increase in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • Sanctions and reductions in benefit (normally relating to previous fraudulent activity)
  • Discretionary Housing Payments can't be paid towards the cost of Council Tax

How to apply

To apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment you need to download, complete and save one of the applications below. You can email the completed application to

How will I be paid?

Your Discretionary Housing Payment will be paid along with your normal Housing Benefit payments. For Universal Credit recipients, you will be paid in the most appropriate manner deemed by the authority and in accordance with Department for Work and Pensions guidance.

One-off payments

For one-off Discretionary Housing Payments (e.g. help with moving costs), we will decide the most appropriate method of payment which may be to a third party such as a removal firm.

What if my circumstances change?

If you receive Discretionary Housing Payments and your circumstances change, your payments may come to an early end. If this is the case you will need to re-apply if you wish to continue to receive this help. Please report all changes in your circumstances as soon as possible, such as

  • Changes in your household e.g. someone moving in or out
  • Changes in income – for any member of your household
  • Changes in rent liability
  • A change of address

This list is not exhaustive. If you are not sure, contact us for further information.

Contacts us

Debt advice

For advice about debt visit the following websites

Other sources of help

If you are a tenant of a registered social landlord, such as Wokingham Borough Council, Housing Solutions, A2 Dominion, Sovereign etc., you may be able to access additional support through a Tenancy Support or Sustainment Officer, or Financial Inclusion Officer within your landlords’ organisation. Contact your landlord directly for further information.

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