Discretionary housing payments

Information about help for people in severe financial difficulty

Discretionary housing payments help people who need extra help with their rent when their housing benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs do not meet the full value of their rent. If you are suffering severe financial hardship as a result, or your tenancy is at risk you may be able to get a discretionary payment to help towards these payments.

The government has set limits on how much discretionary housing payment can be paid out in any financial year. These payments are made from a separate fund with a limited budget and are awarded as a short-term measure to help claimants experiencing difficult circumstances.

Apply for a discretionary housing payment

When we can make a payment

We can only make a discretionary housing payment if we believe that the person's circumstances call for further financial help. Each case is assessed on its individual merits. The finances and personal circumstances of the applicant are carefully considered and taken into account.

Examples of circumstances when a discretionary housing payment may be awarded include:

  • if anybody in the household has particular needs associated with disability or ill health
  • if the accommodation has been adapted because of disability
  • if anybody in the household has a caring responsibility and consequential accommodation needs
  • if anybody in the household has a relevant medical need
  • if there is a young child in the household attending school
  • if more than one additional bedroom is required for a foster child or children
  • if it is not possible or practical for the claimant to look for alternative accommodation

The above list only provides examples and does not cover all the circumstances in which a Discretionary Housing Payment is awarded.

When we can't make a payment

This extra payment is not available for the following purposes:

  • council tax
  • for water, meals, fuel or other ineligible service charges included in your rent
  • to cover any shortfall in housing benefit that occurs due to an overpayment being recovered
  • to pay a rent that is clearly excessive
  • increase in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • certain sanctions and reductions in benefit eg. to a sanction applied by the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to seeking employment or a counter fraud punishment