What are discretionary payments?

Discretionary Housing Payments are additional help you can apply for if you are already getting Housing Benefit or the Universal Credit Housing Element.

The payments are designed to make up some or all of the shortfall between the help you already get and the amount of rent you have to pay. Discretionary payments can help you if:

  • you are struggling to pay your rent
  • you have other circumstances that are causing you hardship
  • you are finding it difficult because of the under occupation or benefit cap rules
  • the Housing Element of Universal Credit does not cover your full housing costs

A Discretionary Housing Payment cannot help towards:

  • amounts for ineligible service charges within your rent, such as heating, water or lighting
  • an amount being recovered from your Housing Benefit payments towards repaying a previous overpayment
  • deductions being made for non dependant who live with you
  • an amount being deducted towards a benefit sanction.

The payments are discretionary which means making an application does not definitely mean you will get help.

How do we work out your award?

Any award is determined by your individual circumstances and the level of income you have left after taking into account your essential expenditure.

A number of factors are taken into account before a Discretionary Housing Payment award can be made:

  • income
  • savings
  • other people in your home
  • your loans and debts
  • your money managing skills
  • illness or disability in your household
  • your efforts to improve your situation

We have limited funds for Discretionary Payments, so these payments are normally for a temporary period. You must already be receiving some Housing Benefit or the Universal Credit Housing element to be eligible for these payments.

What to do if you disagree with a decision

When a decision has been made about your request for Discretionary Housing Payment we will notify you of the outcome in writing. If you are not happy about the amount of your Discretionary Housing Payment you must put you reasons in writing, so that a review of the decision can be considered.

How to apply

Complete a Discretionary Housing Payment application form and return to Benefit Section, Pathfinder House, St Mary’s Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TN

Additional help

Where can I get additional support and advice?

You can get free, independent advice about rent problems from various local agencies:

And national agencies: