Discretionary Payments

There are two different types of Discretionary Payment funds available:

  • Discretionary Housing Payments - for those receiving Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit
  • Exceptional Hardship Payments - for those receiving Council Tax Reduction

Both types of Discretionary Payment are short term or one off payments that are available for those experiencing exceptional financial hardship.

You must be receiving Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit to receive Discretionary Housing Payments. You must be receiving Council Tax Reduction to be able to receive Exceptional Hardship Payments.

What can Discretionary Housing Payments help with?

  • Rent - If the amount you receive to help with your rent from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit isn’t enough to cover your full rent, Discretionary Housing Payment can help top this up.
  • Rent in advance, rent deposit and/or moving costs – if you are moving to more affordable or suitable accommodation.

Discretionary Housing Payments can’t help with:

  • living costs such as water, fuel or food.
  • any of the rent you pay towards service charges that are not included in your Housing Benefit or Housing Element award (these are called ineligible service charges).
  • the amount of Housing benefit or Universal Credit being recovered for an overpayment.
  • the amount of any benefit not paid due to sanction.

What can Exceptional Hardship Payments help with?

  • Council Tax – if you need help with the remaining Council Tax you need to pay, after your Council Tax Reduction has been applied.

Exceptional Hardship Payments can’t help with:

  • any charges that result from a summons or other recovery action.

How do I apply?

You can apply online for Discretionary Housing Payments and Exceptional Hardship Payments using the same online form. You can apply for both payments at the same time, or either one. The form will allow you to choose your preferred option.

To apply online, please visit our online services section of the website, after selecting your authority, click on the ‘Apply for Discretionary Housing Payment’ button.

How are payments made?

Discretionary Housing Payments are paid with your Housing Benefit. If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, the payment will usually be made to whomever receives the Universal Credit payment. Your payment can be made to either you or your landlord. You can choose your preferred option when you complete the online form.

Exceptional Hardship Payments are credited to your Council Tax account, reducing your Council Tax bill.

Can I Appeal a Decision?

There are no formal rights of appeal for Discretionary Housing Payments but we will always consider any requests for us to review a decision. Any requests must be made in writing within one month of the original decision being made. Any new evidence to support your claim will also need to be submitted. Any decision made after a review cannot be appealed against.

Exceptional Hardship Payment awards are granted under S13A (1a) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as part of the Council Tax Reduction scheme. As such the appeals process follows the same route. An appeal can be made at any time. The initial appeal should be made in writing, the decision will then be reviewed. If an agreement cannot be reached then you have the right of further appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Discretionary Housing Payment - Information Leaflet