Extra support - discretionary housing payments

Receive Housing Benefit but need extra help?

How it works

If you receive Housing Benefit but you can't pay the rest of your rent or other housing costs, you could get extra help from us. 

Are you eligible?

We are given a set amount of money each year for discretionary housing payments. We may decide to give you a payment if:

  • you are entitled to Housing Benefit, and
  • we are satisfied that you need further help with housing costs, and
  • we have not exceeded our overall cash limit for the year

    If you are supported by a Welfare Reform Caseworker, they will help you put together an action plan to improve your longer term financial position. This could include:

    • a plan to move to more affordable accommodation (this may mean moving away from the borough)
    • increasing your working hours in order to qualify for Working Tax Credit
    • getting a job and claiming Working Tax Credits
    • working with Job Centre Plus who will support you into work, training and qualifications

    How much can you get and for how long?

    How much you get depends on your circumstances. We look at each application individually. However, we cannot guarantee that we will definitely give you a payment.

    For a shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent, we cannot give you more than your total rent liability (less amounts for services such as electricity or water rates).

    When deciding whether to give a you payment, how much it should be and the duration of the payment - our primary aim is usually to prevent you being homeless. But generally these payments are not designed to provide ongoing or long term support.

    We usually give discretionary housing payments for a limited period during which you should be able to change your circumstances. We expect you and your family to make every effort to change your circumstances to avoid the need to re-apply for a payment. You should look to make the most of your income and reduce your spending or move to more affordable accommodation.

    It is important you tell the truth about your circumstances when applying for a discretionary housing payment. We recover discretionary housing payments made as the result of misrepresentation or failure to disclose material fact – be it fraudulently or otherwise.  

      What can you use discretionary housing payments for?

      Discretionary housing payments can be used to pay for:

      • a shortfall between Housing Benefit and rent
      • rent deposit or rent in advance schemes
      • reductions in Local Housing Allowance
      • rent arrears (but not if you were receiving enough Housing Benefit to pay all of your rent at the time the arrears built up)
      • increased fares to work, if you had to move because you could not afford to live near work following a reduction in your LHA rates
      • extra rental payments, where you have had to move urgently (for example due to domestic violence) and rent is due on two properties – the one you left and the one you have moved to

      Discretionary housing payments cannot be used to pay for:

      • ineligible service charges - things that may be included in your rent, like fuel costs, but not covered by Housing Benefit
      • shortfalls where your Housing Benefit has been reduced to recover an overpayment
      • shortfalls where your other benefits have been reduced, for example, because you left your last job voluntarily
      • reductions in benefits due to sanctions against Income Support or Job Seeekers Allowance (for example, non attendance at a work-focused interview)
      • shortfalls where your rent has been increased because you are behind on your payments
      • a claim where Housing Benefit is suspended as there is a doubt to entitlement 
      • other exceptions as set out by the Department for Work and Pensions

      How will you know if you've been successful?

      You will be sent two separate letters:

      • the first will notify you of the decision and the reasoning behind it
      • the second will tell you the amount of award and period of award