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Discretionary housing payments

If your housing benefit doesn't cover all of your rent you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment if you're finding it difficult to pay the rest of your housing costs.

What is a discretionary housing payment?

A discretionary housing payment is an additional sum of money that can be paid to you if:

You receiving housing benefit and require additional help to meet your housing costs.

Discretionary housing payments can be paid weekly, or can be a lump sum, they may also be backdated.

Who can get a discretionary housing payment?

Anyone who is in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit can get discretionary housing payment (providing they have a rental liability and are eligible for support towards housing costs, this does not include council tax reduction).

Your local housing benefit department assess and decide who will receive the payments. They will usually take into account any special circumstances that contribute to your financial difficulties, for example:

  • reductions in housing benefit or universal credit where the benefit cap has been applied
  • reductions in housing benefit or universal credit following the removal of spare room subsidy in the social rented sector;  reductions in housing benefit or universal credit as a result of local housing allowance restrictions
  • rent officer restrictions such as local reference rent or shared room rate
  • non-dependant deductions in housing benefit, or housing cost contributions in universal credit
  • rent shortfalls to prevent a household becoming homeless whilst the housing authority explores alternative options
  • you have extra heating costs because you spend a lot of time at home because you are sick or disabled
  • you have additional travel costs because you travel to a doctor or hospital or you care for a relative or friend.

How can I claim a discretionary housing payment?

Ask for a discretionary housing payment form from your local council office and fill this in. Make sure you get the right form - it's different from the one you filled in when you first claimed housing benefit. If you need any help speak to an adviser in your local area. 

What information should I send with the claim?

You will be asked to give evidence of how much money you spend each month. This could be a copies of bills or your bank statements. You should also provide any information about your circumstances that make things difficult for you financially.

If I don't get it, can I appeal?

The local authority can review a discretionary housing payment decision in the event of disputes or where the claimant asks for a re-consideration. If they don't change their mind, then the matter can not be progressed any further.

The important points

  • If you receive housing benefit and it doesn't cover your rent then you can apply for discretionary housing payments.
  • You will be asked how much money you spend each month.
  • Discretionary housing payments can be paid weekly, or can be a lump sum.

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Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444*
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

*Our advice line is free to call from landlines and all six of the main UK mobile networks, Virgin, Orange, 3, T-mobile, Vodafone and O2, but charges may apply from any other network


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