Discretionary payments

What are Discretionary Housing Payments and the Council Tax Support Discretionary Hardship Fund?

They can help you if you already get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support and you:

  • Are struggling to pay your rent or Council Tax
  • Have unusual or exceptional circumstances which are causing you financial hardship.

There are no rules which give you a right to a payment. But we may be able to pay you if we believe that you need extra financial support.

See our policy documents on Discretionary Housing Payments and Council Tax Support Discretionary Hardship Fund.

Who can claim a discretionary payment?

You can claim one as long as you are already receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support and your rent or Council Tax is not being met in full by your benefit award.

For example, if your full rent is not being met by Housing Benefit you may get extra help. Service charges cannot be covered.

How do I apply?

Fill in a Discretionary Housing Payments / Discretionary Hardship Fund application form to complete and return it to our offices as soon as possible.

What happens next?

Our experienced officers will look at your application to see if additional help is needed. If we are satisfied that you are in need of further financial help for housing costs then you will be informed in writing of the extra weekly amount you will receive and the length of time the payments will continue.

Each application will be considered entirely on its own merits.

How much extra can I get?

This depends on your circumstances, but we cannot pay more than your eligible weekly rent or the full Council Tax.

What if I don't get any extra payments?

We have a limit to the amount of extra payments we can make and if we decide that you do not really need any additional help it will be because there are other people whose need is greater than yours. You will always be notified of the decision in writing.

What if I don't agree with the Decision?

As Discretionary Payments are not the same as benefit payments, the normal benefit rules on appeals do not apply.

You cannot ask for an appeal tribunal but you can ask us to have another look at your application. A senior officer will then consider your application and you will be notified of the outcome in writing. This decision will be final.

Discretionary Payments will not be made for:

  • Certain elements of the rent eg heating, lighting, water charges and charges to cover meals
  • Increases to the rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • Department for Work and Pensions sanctions or suspensions where an amount of Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance is reduced, suspended or lost
  • Settlement of Council Tax arrears for a previous year
  • Reduce any Council Tax Support recoverable overpayment.

Stopping Discretionary Payments

We may stop the extra payments if there has been a change of circumstances such as your finances improving as additional money comes into the household, or other household members leave.

Payments may also stop if we decide you have failed to disclose the truth about your circumstances, whether fraudulently or otherwise, or if the payment was made in error. A resulting overpayment can be recovered by us.

If you have any further questions please contact us.