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Discretionary housing payments

Discretionary housing payments are payments made by the council where it is satisfied that a person needs extra financial help with their housing costs (ie their rent).

Who can claim a discretionary housing payment?

Anybody receiving housing benefit can make a claim, where there is a shortfall between the rent liability and the benefit awarded.

However, the discretionary housing payment cannot be for more than the shortfall between the rent charged and the housing benefit award.

A discretionary housing payment can not be paid for service charges that housing benefit can not cover, for example water rates, electricity and personal care.

We will consider a request for a discretionary housing payment where a person can show that there is a genuine need for further help with their rent and where there are special circumstances to support that need. The council has complete discretion when deciding whom to make payments to.

A discretionary housing payment may be claimed to pay for:

  • Rent deposits
  • Rent in advance
  • Moving costs

Please note that a person must be in receipt of housing benefit at their current address in order to request a discretionary housing payment for deposit, rent in advance or moving costs regarding their intended new address.

A discretionary housing payment will not usually be awarded where it is considered that a rent being charged for a property is excessive or where the accommodation is too large for a person’s needs, and other suitable accommodation is available.

How to claim a discretionary housing payment

Please complete the application form below and return it to us with the relevant documentation to support your claim: 

We will need to see proof of each item of expenditure, for example shopping receipts, utility bills and proof of loans.

If you rent your property from a private landlord we will also need to see proof of the amount of rent you are charged and details of payments made and arrears.

When we receive your completed form and supporting documents a member of staff may need to ring you or invite you for an interview to discuss the information provided.

What happens next?

Your application will be considered by a panel made up of representatives from the council and other advice agencies. We will send you a letter to advise you of the panel's decision.

If a discretionary housing payment is awarded the letter will advise you of the amount and the period it covers.

If a discretionary housing payment is refused the letter will tell you the reason for the decision. You do not have the right to appeal against the decision. However, you can ask us to look at the decision again, within 14 days of being notified that it was refused, if you have new evidence and information to support your application.

How an award will be made

We will decide how an award of a discretionary housing payment will be made.

If you are a council tenant, any award will usually be paid to your rent account.

If you are a private tenant, the award will either be made directly to yourself or directly to your landlord or landlord’s agent depending on your circumstances.

Changes of circumstances

You must inform us immediately of any change in your income and circumstances and the income and circumstances of anyone who lives in your household. For example:

  • Any increase in wages or any other income
  • Income support or jobseekers allowance ending
  • Anyone joining or leaving your household

It is a criminal offence to obtain monies dishonestly and the council will not hesitate to use its powers to prosecute if necessary.

Further information

If you require any further information please contact us using the details below, or by calling in person at Lancaster or Morecambe town hall, between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Contacts

Email:

benefits@lancaster.gov.uk

Telephone:

01524 582965

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