What are Discretionary Housing Payments and Council Tax Reduction Exceptional Hardship Payments?
They can help you if you already get Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Reduction and
- struggling to pay your rent or council tax and
- you have unusual or extreme circumstances which are causing hardship or
- you are having particular difficulty because of the effects of the under-occupation rules for housing association tenants.
There are no rules that give anyone a right to a payment. But we may be able to pay you if we believe that you need extra financial support.
See Surrey Heath’s policy documents on Discretionary Housing Payments and Council Tax Reduction Exceptional Hardship Payments
Who can claim a Discretionary Payment?
You can claim one as long as you are already receiving Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Reduction and your rent or council tax is not being met in full by your benefit award.
For example if your full rent is not being met by housing benefit you may get extra help - service charges however, cannot be covered.
How do I apply?
Simply fill in a 'Discretionary Payment' application form to complete and return it to the council offices as soon as possible.
What happens next?
A panel of experienced officers will look at your application to see if additional help is needed. If they are satisfied that you are in need of further financial help for housing costs then you will be informed in writing of the extra weekly amount you will receive and the length of time the payments will continue.
Each application will be considered entirely on its own merits.
How much extra can I get?
This depends on your circumstances, but we cannot pay more than your eligible weekly rent or the full council tax.
What if I don't get any extra payments?
The Council has a limit to the amount of extra payments it can make and if the panel decides that you do not really need any additional help it will be because there are other people whose need is greater than yours. You will always be notified of the decision in writing.
What if I do not agree with the Decision?
As Discretionary Payments are not the same as benefit payments, the normal benefit rules on appeals do not apply.
You cannot ask for an Appeal Tribunal but you can ask the Council to have another look at your application. A more senior officer will then consider your application and you will be notified of the outcome in writing. This decision will be final.
Discretionary Payments will not be made for:
- Certain elements of the rent e.g. heating, lighting, water charges and charges to cover meals;
- Increases to the rent due to outstanding rent arrears;
- Benefits Agency sanctions or suspensions where an amount of Income Support or Jobseeker's allowance is reduced, suspended or lost.
- Settlement of a previous yeas council tax arrears
- reduce any Council Tax Support recoverable overpayment
Stopping Discretionary Payments
The Council may stop the extra payments if there has been a change of circumstances e.g. your finances improve as additional money comes into the household, or other household members leave.
Payments may also stop where the council decides someone has failed to disclose the truth about their circumstances, whether fraudulently or otherwise or if the payment was made in error. A resulting overpayment can be recovered by the Council.
If you have any further questions please call the Benefits Section for information and advice on 01276 707100 or visit the enquiry counter located in the Council Offices in Camberley. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.