Discretionary Housing Payments
Discretionary Housing Payments are payments that we can make to people who require further financial assistance to meet their housing costs – however applicants do not have a statutory right to receive an award.
Discretionary Housing Payments cannot exceed the weekly or monthly eligible rent on a home; the amount awarded may cover all or part of a shortfall in rent, or the cost of taking up a tenancy.
Housing costs include:
- Rent liability
- Rent in advance
- Tenancy Deposits
- Other lump sum costs associated with a housing need such as removal costs
To qualify for a Discretionary Housing Payment a person must:
- be entitled to some Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (that includes a housing element towards rental liability) and
- require further financial assistance in order to pay their rent or other housing costs
A person receiving only Local Council Tax Support is not eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Discretionary Housing Payments may be used to cover:
- Restrictions in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit following the introduction of the Social Sector Size Criteria (also referred to as Under Occupancy or the Bedroom Tax) *
- Restrictions in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit due to reductions in Local Housing Allowance
- Restrictions in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit where the benefit cap has been applied
- Rent Officer restrictions such as Local Reference Rent or Shared Room Rate
- Shortfalls between Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and actual rental liability where a person is experiencing severe hardship or has exceptional circumstances e.g. a disability
- Deductions from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit due to non-dependents living in the household
- Rent deposits to help a person secure and move to alternative accommodation
- Rent in advance
- Removal costs
- Rent for two properties when a person is treated as temporary absent from their main home, for example due to domestic violence
* See section below Discretionary Housing Payments and Under Occupancy
The above list does not cover every situation that a Discretionary Housing Payment can help with. Each application will be considered according to its own merits.
Discretionary Housing Payments cannot be paid for:
- Any rent arrears owed
- Rent, when a person is getting Council Tax Reduction but not Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
- Service charges that are not eligible to be covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
- Shortfalls in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit caused by recovery of an overpayment of benefit
- Reductions in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit due to certain Department for Work and Pensions sanctions or reductions
- Council Tax liability
Discretionary Housing Payments and Under Occupancy
In 2020/21 The Scottish Government is continuing to provide funding to local authorities to fully mitigate people who are under occupying their home.
- To cover the reduction in the housing element of Universal Credit because of under occupancy a person must apply using this form
- To cover the reduction in Housing Benefit because of under occupancy a person must apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment by completing form DHP3 (PDF).
View further information on Housing Benefit and Under Occupancy.
Discretionary Housing Payments and Benefit Cap
From the 1st January 2023, the Scottish Government has provided local authorities with funding to mitigate the reduction in their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit as a result of the Benefit Cap
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