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Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payment is a payment you may receive at the discretion of your local authority which can help towards housing costs. You can only get it if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit.

1. What is Discretionary Housing Payment?

Discretionary Housing Payment is a payment you may receive at the discretion of your local authority which can help towards housing costs. You can only get it if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit.

Applies to: England, Wales and Scotland.

Age rules: There are no age rules that affect Discretionary Housing Payment entitlement. However, you must be old enough to have a legally enforceable liability for rent and you must meet the age rules for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Taxable: No

Administered by: Your local authority

2. Can I get a Discretionary Housing Payment?

A Discretionary Housing Payment is for people in need of extra financial assistance on top of their Housing Benefit.

You must be entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

It is available to people who are not receiving enough to cover their rent. There can be several reasons for this, for example:

  • Your Local Housing Allowance is lower than your rent in private rented property

  • Your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced because of non-dependant deductions/housing costs contributions

  • Your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced because you are working age and it has been decided that you have a spare bedroom in social rented property

  • Your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced due to the Benefit Cap.

Discretionary Housing Payment is also available for one-off costs like a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs to help you move into a new home.

Discretionary Housing Payment cannot be used to cover an increase in rent due to arrears or to make up the difference if an overpayment is being recovered from your Housing Benefit. It also can't help to cover certain sanctions or reductions in benefit.

Your local authority will decide how to treat any income or other resources you have.

 

3. How much Discretionary Housing Payment will I get?

Your local authority will decide whether to award a Discretionary Housing Payment, how much to award, and for how long.

The amount you get could cover all or part of your shortfall in rent or the costs of taking up a tenancy.

Benefit Cap

A Discretionary Housing Payment is not included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive.

See our Benefit Cap guide for more details.

How will I be paid a Discretionary Housing Payment?

The payment could be made to you or direct to your landlord.

There is no limit to length of time over which Discretionary Housing Payments can be made. It could be a one-off or an indefinite award.

Discretionary Housing Payments and other benefits

Discretionary Housing Payments do not count as income or capital when calculating your entitlement to means-tested benefits or Tax Credits.

4. How do I claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?

A claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment is different to a claim for Housing Benefit.

You should ask your local council how to make a claim. They may accept claims in writing, over the telephone or electronically.

Note

Sometimes it is hard to find the page with this information on the council website. You can type into Google Search the words "(name of council)" + Discretionary Housing Payment. Different councils will have different named schemes, for example, Islington Council has a Resident Support Scheme. 

So an example would be a Google search - "Birmingham city council discretionary housing payment" - which would take you directly to that page.

What documents will I need to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?

Each local authority will have its own claim form but the following documents will usually be required to support a claim:

  • Your most recent payslip if you are working

  • Your partner's most recent payslip (if you have a partner and they are working)

  • Bank account statements covering the last two months (and partner's)

  • Proof of any loan or credit card or hire purchase repayment agreements

  • Any letters you have received from the landlord about rent arrears

  • Proof of any expenses that are especially high

  • If you are ill, recent medical evidence.

When will my Discretionary Housing Payment claim begin?

There are no rules on backdating. It is up to your local authority whether any award will be backdated and for how long.

Change of circumstances

You are required to notify your local council of any changes of circumstances which may be relevant to you continuing to receive Discretionary Housing Payments. You will be told about the changes you should report.

5. How do I challenge a Discretionary Housing Payment decision?

You can ask your local council to review its decision. You should receive the new decision and any reasons in writing.

There is no right of appeal against a Discretionary Housing Payment decision but occasionally you may be able to apply for a Judicial Review in the High Court. You will need to seek legal advice on this.

If you are unhappy with how your claim was handled, you can make a formal complaint to the council. If you still think your complaint has not been handled correctly, you should contact the local government ombudsman.