What are Discretionary payments?

Discretionary Housing Payment and Discretionary Council Tax Support are additional help you can apply for if you are already getting Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit Housing Element.

The payments are designed to make up some or all of the shortfall between the help you already get and the amount of rent or council tax you have to pay. Discretionary payments can help you if:

  • You are struggling to pay your rent or Council Tax
  • You have other circumstances that are causing you hardship
  • You are finding it difficult because of the under occupation, benefit cap rules or following the removal of Council Tax Benefit
  • The Housing Element of Universal Credit does not cover your full housing costs

The payments are discretionary which means making an application does not definitely mean you will get help.

Make a claim for Discretionary Housing Payment/ Discretionary Council Tax Support


How do we calculate entitlement?

Any entitlement is determined by your individual circumstances and the level of income you have left after taking into account your essential expenditure.

A number of factors are taken into account before a Discretionary Housing Payment award can be made: 

  • Income 
  • Savings 
  • Other people in your home
  • Your loans and debts
  • Your money managing skills
  • Illness or disability in your household
  • Your efforts to improve your situation

The city council has limited funds for Discretionary Payments, so these payments are normally for a temporary period. You must already be in receipt of some Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Universal Credit to be eligible for these payments. 

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit, Discretionary Housing Payment will only be considered on the amount of rent that is eligible for Housing Benefit; after deducting costs such as water rates or fuel.

If you are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction Scheme, then Discretionary Council Tax Reduction will help to meet some or all of the Council Tax that you have to pay if there is a shortfall because of the following:

  • The 25% entitlement reduction for people of working age
  • Non-dependant deductions
  • Shortfall due to income tapers

What to do if you disagree with a decision 

When a decision has been made about your request for Discretionary Housing Payment or Discretionary Council Tax Support you will be notified of the outcome in writing. If you are not happy about the amount of your Discretionary Housing Payment or Discretionary Council Tax Support award, you must put you reasons in writing, so that a review of the decision can be considered.

Email: benefit.services@southampton.gov.uk

Discretionary Policy

See also: Support in a crisis