This page tells you about the discretionary housing payment scheme. It gives you information about who could be eligible, and what will happen once you've applied. If you think you are eligible, you can apply using the online form.

What are discretionary housing payments?

Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit or housing element of universal credit. They are an additional, short-term payment. Our benefits team makes the decision whether to award discretionary housing payments (you can view our policy here).

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for discretionary housing payment, you must already receive housing benefit or housing element of universal credit. You will either have:

  • A shortfall to pay between your housing benefit or housing element of universal credit and your rent. If this is the case, discretionary housing payment would usually be a weekly payment.
  • Be facing a large reduction because of the welfare reforms. If this is the case, you may receive a lump sum, such as a deposit or rent in advance to help you find more affordable accommodation.

The payment depends on your own circumstances. You need to show us that you are suffering financial difficulties due to the shortfall in your housing benefit or housing element of universal credit. Discretionary housing payments are a short-term measure to ease poverty or difficult circumstances. They shouldn't be relied on in the long-term.

What do you take into account?

  • The shortfall between housing benefit or housing element of universal credit and the rent
  • Any steps you've taken to reduce the rental liability
  • Your financial and medical circumstances. This includes the circumstances of your partner, dependants, and anyone else living with you
  • Any savings or capital
  • Any income that may be disregarded in housing benefit or housing element of universal credit calculations
  • For awards toward a rent deposit or rent in advance, we'll also consider any repayable deposit from the current property, and whether the new property is affordable.

What won't you award discretionary housing payments for?

Discretionary housing payments are not awarded for:

  • rent if you only qualify for council tax support
  • services, such as utility charges, or support charges included in the rent
  • increases in rent to cover rent arrears
  • sanctions and reductions in any benefit
  • amounts of housing benefit that have been suspended
  • amounts being repaid for overpayments of housing benefit or housing element of universal credit
  • arrangements made to clear council tax arrears

How do I claim?

To claim, complete the discretionary housing payment application form. We'll ask for details of your current circumstances and reasonable evidence to support your claim (for example, evidence of any outgoings or medical circumstances). We'll still consider your application even if you can't provide us with the evidence we asked for. Each case is treated strictly on its own merits.

What happens once I've claimed?

We'll let you know the outcome of your claim. If you're unsuccessful, we'll explain how we reached our decision and you can appeal (see info about appeals below).

If you're successful, we'll let you know how much you'll be awarded weekly, for how long and who it will be paid to.

Discretionary housing payment may not totally cover the difference between your rent liability and your housing benefit or housing element of universal credit payment. If you're awarded a discretionary housing payment, there's no guarantee that you will be awarded another even if your circumstances stay the same. If your circumstances change, let us know as we may need to revise the award.

Overpayments

If you receive a discretionary housing payment which you are not entitled to, we'll decide whether to recover the overpayment. If we do decide to recover the overpayment, you'll get a letter from us with the details.

Appeals

If you are not awarded a discretionary housing payment, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. The review would be carried out by someone who was not involved with the original decision. To request a review, write to us at the following address within one calendar month of the date on your decision letter:

Housing Benefit Team,
Civic Offices,
Guildhall Square,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2BE

Be sure to provide any additional information that you feel may help your application. We will then review our decision and write to you with the outcome.

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