Please note: The Discretionary Payments Policy was last updated on Thursday May 18, 2023 and the changes will be effective from June 1, 2023.

The purpose of discretionary payments is to ensure that customers who claim housing benefit, the housing element of Universal Credit (UC) or Council Tax Support (CTS), do not suffer severe financial hardship when there is a shortfall between the amount of assistance they receive and the amount of rent or Council Tax they are liable to pay.

Who can claim discretionary payments?

Discretionary housing payments (DHP) provides financial support towards housing costs and are paid by Charnwood Borough Council (CBC) when we are satisfied that a claimant needs further financial assistance with housing costs and is in receipt of either:

  • Housing Benefit (HB) or
  • Universal Credit (UC) with housing costs towards rental liability.

DHP payments will be made separately to your normal award of HB or UC housing costs.

Discretionary Council Tax Support (DCTS) can be applied for if you are named on the Council Tax bill at your address and you are in severe financial hardship. The minimum amount of weekly CTS must be in payment for an application for DCTS to be considered. DCTS will be credited to your Council Tax account.

To claim DHP or DCTS you must demonstrate you are experiencing financial crisis and require further financial assistance to cover the shortfall in housing or Council Tax costs.

What do discretionary housing payments cover?

You can apply for DHP to assist with the following.

a) A shortfall in rent and the amount of HB of UC housing costs you receive.

b) A rent deposit and/or rent in advance. Retrospective payments will only be considered where there are extenuating circumstances, and an intention to claim DHP has been made to the Council prior to making the payment to the landlord/agent.

c) Contribute towards moving costs when a customer begins renting a new property and non-payment would prevent the customer moving in.

d) Contribute towards rent costs at a new temporary licensed accommodation where a customer’s move has been unavoidably delayed through no fault of their own. 

What don’t DHP’s cover?

  • Ineligible service charges for rent.
  • The acquisition of furniture or household equipment
  • Charges for water, sewerage, and environmental services.
  • Rent arrears.
  • Council Tax payments.
  • Sanctions and reductions in benefit entitlement. DHP’s cannot meet these because to do so would undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions or reduction in benefit. 
  • Benefit suspensions. If HB or UC is suspended either because there is a general doubt about entitlement or because a claimant has failed to supply information pertinent to their claim.
  • Shortfalls caused by HB or UC overpayment recovery.
  • Rent deposit and rent in advance for social Landlord will not be considered.  

Principle Objectives

The principle objectives of the policy is to:

  • Alleviate Poverty
  • Reduce Homelessness
  • Encourage and sustain Charnwood residents in employment
  • Safeguard Charnwood residents in their homes
  • Help those who are trying to help themselves
  • Keep families together
  • Support the vulnerable in the local community
  • Help claimants through personal crises and difficult events.

Claiming discretionary housing payments

An application form is required for all new discretionary payment claims. If a discretionary payment award comes to an end following a fixed period, and you still require financial assistance during the same financial year (1st April to 31st March), and there have been no changes in your household or circumstances, a shortened renewal form will be required. If you have had a change of circumstances or you have not been awarded discretionary payments during the current financial year, you will be required to complete a full application form.

You will be required to provide the last two months up-to-date bank statements for all accounts that you and your partner hold (bank, building society, Credit Union, Post Office). No decision will be made on your application unless this information is provided within one calendar month of the date your claim is received.

You may also be asked for proof of certain items of expenditure, which will need to be provided within one calendar month of the date the information is requested.

DHP claims can be made online. If you are applying online, you can add attachments to your application form or upload evidence via our website. Alternatively you can email

If you are unable to or do not provide the required evidence the Benefit Service may still process the application and will, in any event, consider any other available evidence including that held in HB files.

The Benefits Team reserves the right to verify any information or evidence provided by the claimant in appropriate circumstances.

If reasonable in the circumstances, for example, if a claimant is vulnerable and requires support, an application can be accepted from someone acting on behalf of the claimant, such as an appointee or nominated person.

Benefit Service Policy

Each case will be considered strictly on its merit, decisions will be made in accordance with principles or good decision-making; in particular, it will act fairly and reasonably.  

  • The scheme is purely discretionary; a claimant does not have a statutory right to payment.
  • The amount that can be paid out in any financial year is cash-limited by the Secretary of State.
  • The administration of the scheme is normally administered by the Benefit Service.
  • DHP’s are not a payment of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. However, the minimum amount of HB or UC Housing element, must be in payment in the benefit week that a DHP is awarded. Where there is no entitlement to HB or UC housing element, DHP will not be considered.

The Benefit Service considers that the DHP scheme should be seen as a short time emergency fund.  It is not and should not be considered as a way round any current or future entitlement restrictions set out within the Housing Benefit legislation. 

The Benefits Service will not take certain income into consideration when assessing Discretionary Payment applications, these are.

  • War Pension payments
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments – Daily Living Component

Personal Independence Mobility Payments will be offset against any travel costs included in the application.

From April 2023, where a customer is subject to an Under Occupancy Reduction (bedroom tax), we may restrict the amount of Discretionary Housing Payments payable where a customer is unable to demonstrate they are taking reasonable steps to improve their housing situation or have extenuating circumstances such as a medical issue that prevents the person from moving house.

If a customer is unable to evidence they are taking any steps, Discretionary Housing Payments may be withdrawn altogether after a two year period.  Reasonable steps will include but not be limited to, making efforts to reduce the under occupancy by seeking alternative accommodation through the local authority housing register or private landlords and/or maximising benefit income.

Periods of award

In all cases, the Benefit Service will decide the length of time for which a Discretionary Payment will be awarded. The decision will be based on the evidence supplied and the known facts. 

The minimum period that a DHP can be awarded for is one week, but normally the Benefit Service will award DHP for a period of not less than 13 weeks.

DHP awards for Temporary accommodation maybe calculated at a daily rate.

Awards will usually begin the Monday following receipt of an application.  

The Benefit Service will not normally award a DHP for a period exceeding a year.  The claimant is advised that they can reapply at the end of their DHP award period if they still feel they need extra help.  

The Benefit Service considers any reasonable request for backdating an award. Any request will be limited to the current financial year and for a maximum period of one calendar month.

In relation to a rent deposit or rent in advance application the amounts awarded will be considered in line with the current rental market, size of suitable property and any other relevant costs.

Awarding discretionary payments

In deciding to award a Discretionary Payment, the Benefit Service will consider:

  • A claimant’s or household member’s disability or any adaptations that may have been made to the home to accommodate a disability.
  • Whether there are foster children in the property
  • The amount of DHP funding available at the time of application
  • The shortfall between Housing Benefit and rental liability
  • The financial and medical circumstances of the claimant, their partner and any dependants and any other occupants of the claimant’s home.
  • The income and expenditure of the claimant their partner and any dependants or other occupants of the claimant’s home.
  • Any savings or capital that might be held by the claimant and their family
  • The level of indebtedness of the claimant and their family
  • The exceptional nature of the claimant and their family’s circumstances
  • The possible impact on the Council of not making an award i.e. the pressure on priority homeless accommodation.
  • The suitability and affordability of the property
  • Any other special circumstances brought to the attention of Benefit Services. 

The Benefit Service will decide how much to award based on all the circumstances. This may be an amount below the difference between liability and payment of Benefit. An award of DP does not guarantee a further award will be made later even if the claimant’s circumstances have not changed.

Changes of Circumstances

You must notify Charnwood Borough Council of any changes of circumstances which may be relevant to your DHP or DCTS application or award. You can report changes through our website: Tell us about a change in circumstances.

You must report a change in:

  • Address
  • Income or Capital
  • Employment status and earnings
  • Outgoings
  • Availability of other financial assistance
  • Household Composition (baby born, someone leaves the household)
  • A change in you or a family members significant health which was the reason for the application.

Method of payment 

The Benefit Service will decide the most appropriate person to pay based upon the circumstances of each case.  In relation to rental payments, the frequency of payment will normally be made in line with how the claimants Housing Benefit/Universal Credit is paid.

Discretionary Council Tax Support will be automatically credited to the relevant Council Tax account.


The Benefit Service will inform the claimant of the outcome of their application.

Where the application is unsuccessful the Benefit Service will set out the reasons why the decision has been made and explain the right of review. 

Where the application is successful the Benefit Service will advise of 

  • The week amount of DHP awarded or the amount of rent deposit/rent in advance
  • The period of the award
  • How and when it will be paid 
  • The reasons for the award.
  • The requirement to report a change in circumstances 

Stopping discretionary payments

There are instances when discretionary payments can be stopped before the end date already indicated on the notification letter. These are if:

  • The council decides that a DHP or DCTS is being, and/or has been, made because a claimant has misrepresented or failed, fraudulently or otherwise, to disclose a material fact
  • DHP of DCTS has been paid because of an error
  • You no longer need further financial assistance towards housing costs or council tax payments.

The right to seek a review

DHP and DCTS awards are not payments of Housing Benefit or reductions under the Council Tax Support scheme and are therefore not subject to the statutory appeals mechanism. 

Charnwood Borough Council Benefit Service operate the following policy for dealing with disputes about 

  • a refusal to award a DHP or
  • a decision to award a reduced DHP or
  • a decision not to award a DHP for a backdated period
  • a decision that there has been an overpayment of a DHP

A claimant who disagrees with a DHP decision can ask for it to be reviewed i.e.  looked at again.  A request for a review must be made in writing to the Benefit Service within one month of the date on the decision letter that they disagree with. 

The review will be looked at by another officer to the one who made the initial decision. A written decision letter will be sent to the claimant giving that officer’s reasons for coming to whatever decision is reached. 

Where the claimant is still not satisfied, they will only be able to challenge the decision via judicial review process or by complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. 

Recovering overpayments

Discretionary housing payments can only be recovered if the council decides that payment has been made because of either:

  • a misrepresentation or failure to disclose a material fact by the claimant (either fraudulently or otherwise)
  • an error made when the application was determined.

An invoice will be raised for overpaid discretionary housing payments. Under no circumstances will recovery be made from any amounts of Housing Benefit due to the claimant, except if the claimant requests this method specifically in writing.  The decision letter that notifies a customer of an overpayment will also set out the right of review. 


Each financial year the government allocates Local Authorities a set amount of funding for the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme. Once this funding has been allocated, during the financial year, Charnwood Borough Council may use their own funds to top up the scheme however, this is not a requirement.

The Local Discretionary Council Tax Support funding is provided by Charnwood Borough Council.  

Tackling Fraud

If you falsely declare your circumstances, provide a false statement, or provide false evidence in support of your application, you may have committed an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.

Last updated: Thu 18th May, 2023 @ 10:19