Discretionary housing payments provide extra help if you are already getting housing benefit or Universal Credit (including housing costs) but you still need further help with housing costs.
To qualify for Discretionary Housing Payments:
- you must be receiving some housing benefit or Universal Credit (including housing costs) towards your rent
- there must be a shortfall between the amount of benefit you get and your rent
- you must be able to show that you need extra help to meet your housing costs
How do I know if I have a shortfall?
You have a shortfall if the amount of housing benefit you receive is less than the rent you have to pay. Reasons why you may have a shortfall are:
- if the Local Housing Allowance is less than the rent you have to pay and your landlord will not reduce your rent
- if your benefit is reduced because of the spare room deduction
- if your benefit is reduced because you have a non-dependant living with you
- if your benefit is reduced based on your income
If you need to pay a rent deposit or rent in advance to move into another property, we will normally only consider this if you are moving to a cheaper property because of a shortfall at your current address.
What Discretionary Housing Payments cannot cover
We cannot pay Discretionary Housing Payments to help with the following costs:
- a shortfall between your Council Tax and the amount of Local Council Tax Support you receive
- services included in your rent which cannot be met by housing benefit (for example, heating, meals, water rates)
- extra payments you are making on top of your normal rent to clear rent arrears
- reduced income caused by sanctions or reductions in benefit, such as a result of not attending a work-focused interview or a Jobseeker's Allowance employment sanction
- shortfalls caused by a housing benefit overpayment being recovered from your housing benefit or Universal Credit.
We do not usually pay you Discretionary Housing Payments if we think you can deal with the shortfall in other ways. This may include:
- claiming other benefits to which you may be entitled
- negotiating any debt repayments
- cutting down on unnecessary and avoidable expenses
If you are living in over-large or over-expensive accommodation, we will normally expect you to move to smaller, more affordable accommodation. We may pay a Discretionary Housing Payment for a short time to give you time to find other accommodation. If there are special reasons why you need to remain in your current home, for example, if your home has been significantly adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person, we will not expect you to move.
How do I claim Discretionary Housing Payments?
Discretionary Housing Payments are made from a fixed pot of money given to us by government, so not everyone who claims will be awarded extra help. We try and give the extra help to those most in need, which is why you need to give us as much information as you can, including your income and expenses.
How long will you pay Discretionary Housing Payments?
Normally for long enough to give you time to find other ways of sorting out your financial difficulties. Generally, this means payments for between three and six months, but we may pay you for a shorter or longer period depending on your circumstances.
Once we end your payments, you can make a claim for a further award. However, there is no guarantee that you will get the extra help, even if your circumstances have not changed.
What appeal rights do I have?
If we turn your claim for Discretionary Housing Payments down, you can ask us to look at the decision again. An officer who was not involved in the original decision will look at your claim again, including any new information and evidence you want to give us. There is no further right of appeal against this officer’s decision.
Further help and advice
Our Discretionary Housing Payments Policy tells you more about how we will decide who gets this extra help.
- Discretionary Housing Payment Policy
- Download (115KB)
If you want to ask us anything about Discretionary Housing Payments, please get in touch with us. If you prefer, you can get help and advice from an independent organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you have difficulty managing your money, our 'Money Advice' fact sheet contains useful information about how to manage your money
- Download (259KB)
We also have a fact sheet giving details of general advice and support available including support with finding work, support with budgeting and managing your money, and support with moving.
- Welfare Reform Support and options factsheet
- Download (133KB)
For further information, please contact us:
- email: email@example.com
- tel: 01302 735336
- Discretionary Housing Payment Policy
- Download (115KB - PDF)
- Welfare Reform Support and options Factsheet
- Download (133KB - PDF)
- Download (199KB - PDF)