Getting extra help with paying your rent and/or council tax
What are Discretionary Payments?
Discretionary payments were introduced in July 2001 and replaced the exceptional hardship and exceptional circumstances payments. They are not payments of benefit or support but separate payments made at the council's discretion in cases where it is considered that extra help with rent and / or council tax is needed.
Payments are made from a set budget that we manage. This means that once the budget has been spent no further awards can be made until the next financial year.
Who can claim?
Anyone who is currently receiving housing benefit, Housing Costs within Universal Credit or Local Council Tax Support and there is a shortfall between the amount of benefit or support paid and the amount of rent and / or council tax charged, can apply.
When can Discretionary housing payments not be paid?
We cannot pay a Discretionary payment to cover any shortfall where this is due to:
- ineligible service charges
- the payment of benefit or support has been suspended
- any sanctions imposed by the Department for Work and Pensions
- the amount of housing benefit you are entitled to is being in full or part to recover an overpayment of benefit.
How to claim?
Please use our online claim form to apply.
Awarding a discretionary housing payment?
If we can provide help we will decide who to pay based on the circumstances of each case, this may be:
- your partner
- an appointee or
- your landlord
The payments will be included with your normal payment of housing benefit.
How long will it be given for?
This will depend on your circumstances and the funding available. Discretionary housing payments must not be seen as a long term solution to meeting the shortfall that exists. Once the period of the award has ended further payments cannot be guaranteed.
What if your circumstances change?
As with payments of housing benefit, any changes in your circumstances must be reported immediately to the Benefit Service. Further information about Changes in Circumstance is available.
What if you are overpaid?
We will recover any overpaid discretionary housing payments by issuing an invoice. We will notify you in writing of any overpayment and explain your rights to ask for a review. Further information about overpayments is available.
What appeal rights are there?
Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit and therefore do not carry the same appeal rights. You can however, ask us to review our decision about:
- not making an award
- the amount of the award
- not backdating the award
- an overpayment of benefit
More information about Discretionary Housing Payments (pdf 832kb).