Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments help people who need extra help with their rent when their Housing Benefit or the housing cost element of Universal Credit doesn't meet the full value of their rent. If you're suffering severe financial hardship as a result, or your tenancy is at risk you may be able to get a discretionary payment to help towards these payments.

The Government has set limits on how much Discretionary Housing Payment can be paid out in any financial year. These payments are made from a separate fund with a limited budget and are awarded as a short-term measure to help claimants experiencing difficult circumstances.

When we can make a payment

We can only make a Discretionary Housing Payment if we believe that the person's circumstances call for further financial help. Each case is assessed on its individual merits. The finances and personal circumstances of the applicant are carefully considered and taken into account.

Discretionary Housing Payments may be awarded include:

  • If anybody in the household has particular needs associated with disability or ill health
  • If the accommodation has been adapted because of disability
  • If anybody in the household has a caring responsibility and consequential accommodation needs
  • If anybody in the household has a relevant medical need
  • If there's a young child in the household attending school
  • If more than one additional bedroom is required for a foster child or children
  • If it isn't possible or practical for the claimant to look for alternative accommodation

These are only examples and don't cover all the circumstances in which a Discretionary Housing Payment is awarded.

When we can't make a payment

We can't make a payment for the following purposes:

  • Council tax
  • If you're receiving Universal Credit but don't get the housing costs element
  • Water, meals, fuel or other ineligible service charges included in your rent
  • To cover any shortfall in Housing Benefit that occurs because of an overpayment being recovered
  • To pay rent that is clearly excessive
  • Increase in rent due to outstanding rent arrears
  • Certain sanctions and reductions in benefit (a sanction applied by the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to seeking employment or a counter fraud punishment)

How to apply

Download Apply for Discretionary Housing Payments [PDF, 103KB]

Return completed application forms to Revenues and Benefits, Plymouth City Council, PO Box 293, Plymouth PL5 9BZ. Please give as much information as possible to help us understand your circumstances.

How we make our decision

The amount of Discretionary Housing Payments you can get is based on:

  • total income
  • savings
  • if anyone else is able to help you financially
  • if you could re-arrange your finances to ease the situation
  • if you or your family have any special circumstances, like ill health or disability

The amount you receive will vary as each claim is looked at individually and depends on your circumstances and a specific length of time. Please tell us if your circumstances change, in writing, within one month so we can look at our decision and see whether your payment needs to be changed.

If your application is successful, we'll pay your payment with any housing benefit you get. We can let you know if you'll receive this payment before you start a tenancy with a landlord.

How to appeal

You can't appeal against our decision but you can ask us to provide an explanation. If you disagree with the amount or period of the payment, you need to write to us at Revenues and Benefits, Plymouth City Council, PO Box 293, Plymouth PL5 9BZ within one month of the date of the decision letter and we'll see if it needs to be changed.