Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit. They are separate payments made at the council’s discretion in cases where it considers that extra help with housing costs is needed.
Who can claim
You must be entitled to housing benefit to receive a discretionary housing payment. A discretionary housing payment cannot be used:
to pay ineligible service charges
to minimise the effect of Job Seeker Plus sanctions
to make payment when housing benefit is suspended
to help with council tax liability – there is a separate discretionary council tax support payment scheme to help with council tax liability
when a claimant does not have a minimum entitlement to that benefit, eg if housing benefit only is payable the claimant would have no entitlement to a discretionary housing payment to help with their council tax liability and vice versa
How to claim
You will need to complete an online local welfare assistance form
You must provide proof of identity and income and your national insurance number. All documents supporting your claim must be original. We do not accept photocopies.
Length of payment
The length of payment varies from case to case. We will decide the length of time for which a payment will be awarded on the basis of the evidence supplied and the facts known.
Awarding a discretionary housing payment
Each claim will be decided on its own merits. Making an application does not guarantee an award. We will take into account you and your family’s personal, medical and financial circumstances. We will decide if an award should be made to you and if so how much to award, based on all of the circumstances. This may be an amount below the difference between the liability and payment of housing benefit. An award of a discretionary housing payment does not guarantee that a further award will be made at a later date even if your circumstances have not changed.
How payments are made
We will decide who to pay based on the circumstances of each case. We can pay:
your landlord (or an agent of the landlord) or
any third party to whom it might be most appropriate to make payment
The payments will be paid together with your housing benefit.
Change of circumstances
You must notify us of any change in your financial or family circumstances that may affect your housing and/or council tax benefit. We will alter an award where your circumstances change.
We will recover any overpaid discretionary housing payments by issuing an invoice. We will notify you in writing of any overpayment and explain your right to ask for a review.
The right to seek a review
Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit therefore you do not have appeal rights. You can, however, ask us to look at our decision again (review).
You can ask us to review the following discretionary housing payment decisions:
not to make an award
to award a reduced or lesser amount
not to backdate
that there has been an overpayment
If you ask us to review the decision, you must tell us in writing within one calendar month of the date of the decision why you think the decision is wrong. We will look at the decision again and either confirm or alter our original decision.
Ealing Council is committed to the fight against fraud. A customer who tries to fraudulently claim a discretionary housing payment by falsely declaring their circumstances, providing a false statement or evidence in support of their application, may have committed an offence under the Theft Act 1968. Where we suspect that such a fraud may have occurred, the matter will be investigated and this may lead to criminal proceedings being started.