Discretionary Housing Payments

Last Updated: 26 May 2023

Discretionary Housing Payments are payments, separate to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, to help those struggling with housing costs.

You can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need help to:

  • meet the shortfall between the Housing Benefit or Universal Credit paid and the eligible rent
  • cover the cost of moving to a more affordable property
  • cover rent arrears that are putting your tenancy at risk

This includes any tenants who get Housing Benefit who are affected by changes made by the government, particularly when their options for moving home or increasing their income are limited.

Apply for Discretionary Housing Payments

You should make your request as soon as you need help as we can only backdate awards in exceptional circumstances.

If you have previously made a request for Discretionary Housing Payments and were not granted an award you can apply again. We will look back to previous applications and compare the information that you have provided.

As we have a limited fund available, we make Discretionary Housing Payments only when we are satisfied someone needs extra financial help to meet their housing costs.

We cannot award Discretionary Housing Payments if:

  • you are not in receipt of either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit inclusive of the Housing Element
  • you are already getting all your eligible rent paid by benefit
  • if the only shortfall is due to a previous overpayment
  • you are wanting help to pay certain items that may be included in the rent that are not normally covered by Housing Benefit such as water rates, heating, lighting etc

You cannot claim a Discretionary Housing Payment to help to pay Council Tax. If you are finding it difficult to pay your Council Tax you should contact our team for advice on whether your total charge or your monthly payments can be reduced further.

Advice if you are having difficulty paying Council Tax

Assessing a claim

When deciding whether you are entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments, we will look at:

  • the income of your household compared to the expenditure, including whether any expenditure is on non-essential items
  • any savings which could be used to pay the shortfall in rent
  • whether any member of the family have health problems or disabilities
  • whether there are young children in the family
  • whether there has been a recent bereavement within the family
  • whether there are any rent arrears
  • whether it would be possible to negotiate a lower rent or move to cheaper accommodation

If you are applying for help with moving costs, we will also take into account whether you are currently in a property where you cannot afford the shortfall and check that the property you are moving to is affordable and sustainable.

When we receive your form and supporting documents we may need to ring you or invite you for an interview to discuss the information that you have provided.

We will then look at your application and send you a letter to let you know the decision, usually within 14 working days.

If you have been awarded a Discretionary Housing Payment the letter will let you know the amount and the period it covers, which can vary according to each case.

If your request is refused we will tell you the reason for the decision. You do not have the right to appeal, but you can ask us to look at the decision again within one month of it being refused if you have new evidence and information to support your application.

How payments will be made

We will pay the award to you or to your landlord (or their agent) as either a lump sum or weekly award. Your letter will tell you when payments will be made. Help with rent in advance and deposits will normally be paid to your new landlord with your usual Housing Benefit payments.

Changes of circumstances affecting Discretionary Housing Payments

We may need to review an award of Discretionary Housing Payment if there are any changes to income or circumstances for you or for anyone living with you.

This includes but is not exclusive to:

  • an increase in wages or any other income
  • your Universal Credit or any other benefit ending
  • an increase in your capital
  • any changes to your rent
  • anyone joining or leaving your household

You could be prosecuted if you do not tell us about a change in income or circumstances.