Awarding Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments are made to help people struggling with housing costs, separate to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

You can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need help to:

  • meet the shortfall between the Housing Benefit or Universal Credit paid and the eligible rent
  • cover the costs of moving house (which includes rent deposit, rent in advance and moving costs)
  • cover rent arrears that are putting your tenancy at risk.

This includes any tenants who get Housing Benefit who are affected by changes made by the government, particularly when their options for moving home or increasing their income are limited.

Claiming Discretionary Housing Payments

Apply for Discretionary Housing Payments

If you are unable to apply online please contact us.

You should make your application for Discretionary Housing Payments as soon as you need help.
We have a limited Discretionary Housing Payments fund available, and can only make payments when we are satisfied someone needs extra financial help to meet their housing costs. We will consider each claim on its merits.

We cannot award Discretionary Housing Payments if:

  • you are already getting all your eligible rent paid by benefit
  • if the only shortfall is due to a previous overpayment
  • you want help to pay certain items that may be included in the rent that are not normally covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs, such as water rates, heating, lighting.

Assessing a claim

When deciding whether you are entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments, we will look at:

  • the income of your household compared to the expenditure, including whether any expenditure is on non-essential items
  • any savings which could be used to pay the shortfall in rent
  • whether any member of the family have health problems or disabilities
  • whether there are young children in the family
  • whether there has been a recent bereavement within the family
  • whether there are any rent arrears
  • whether it would be possible to negotiate a lower rent or move to cheaper accommodation.

If you are applying for help with moving costs, we will also take into account whether you are currently in a property where you cannot afford the shortfall and check that the property you are moving to is affordable and sustainable.

When we receive your completed form we may need to request further information and/or documents to support your application.

We will look at your application and send you a letter to let you know the decision, usually within 14 working days of receiving all the information.

If you have been awarded a Discretionary Housing Payment the letter will let you know the amount and the period it covers, which can vary according to each case.

If your request is refused we will tell you the reason for the decision. You do not have the right to appeal, but you can ask us to look at the decision again within one month of it being refused if you have new evidence and information to support your application.

Awards are normally made in a lump sum for rent deposit/rent arrears/rent in advance and a weekly award for rent shortfall (for a limited period of 13 weeks, which may be extended if your circumstances have not changed and you still meet the criteria for the award).

How payments will be made

We will pay the award to you or your landlord (or their agent) as either a lump sum or every 4 weeks by BACS. Your letter will tell you when payments will be made. Help with rent in advance and deposits will normally be paid to your new landlord.

Changes of circumstances affecting Discretionary Housing Payments

We may need to review an award of Discretionary Housing Payment if there are any changes to income or circumstances for you or for anyone living with you.

This includes:

  • an increase in wages or any other income
  • Universal Credit, Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance ending
  • anyone joining or leaving your household.


We will seek to recover any Discretionary Housing Payments found to be overpaid. An invoice will be sent to you, or the person the award was paid to. The decision letter notifying there is an overpayment will set out the right of review.


You could be prosecuted if you falsely declare your income or circumstances, or you do not tell us about a change in income or circumstances.

Last updated: Friday, 30 September, 2022.