Housing benefit additional help & advice

Housing benefit additional help & advice

If you already claim housing benefit and need additional financial help, there are a number of different ways we may be able to help.

Discretionary housing payments

Discretionary housing payments are additional payments for those currently receiving housing benefit or universal credit that includes a housing element towards rental liability and require further financial assistance with their housing costs.

Please also have a look at our discretionary housing payment policy and discretionary housing payment factsheet.

If you are getting all of your rent paid by housing benefit, you cannot get discretionary housing payments.

A discretionary housing payment may be used to pay for:
  • rent where it has been restricted by the rent officer, and your housing benefit award is less than the rent charged
  • reductions in your housing benefit or Universal Credit entitlement following changes to the local housing allowance from April 2011
  • increases in essential work-related expenditure, such as increased fares to work if you have had to move because you could no longer afford to live near your work following a reduction in your local housing allowance rate
  • a rent deposit or advance for a property you are yet to move into, if you are already entitled to housing benefit or Universal Credit for your present home
Please note that these are only examples of when we may pay a discretionary housing payment. If your circumstances are different, you should still apply.
We cannot give discretionary housing payments towards:
  • ineligible service charges
  • increases in rent due to outstanding arrears
  • sanctions and reductions in any benefit following benefit related offences
  • suspended housing benefit or universal credit
  • rent when you are getting council tax support, but not housing benefit or help with housing costs in universal credit
  • shortfalls caused by housing benefit or universal credit overpayment recovery
How to apply for a discretionary housing payment
Telephone: 0345 600 6400 (charged at your local rate)
Post: Print and complete the discretionary housing payment application form and return it to:

Benefit Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

In person: at one of our customer information centres
How much could you receive?
How much we give you depends on your circumstances, but we cannot guarantee you will receive a payment. We look at each case individually and will look at the following things:
  • your income and savings
  • if anyone else in your house can help you
  • if you have any loans or debts
  • if you could manage your money better
  • if anyone in your family is ill or disabled
  • if you have tried to right the situation yourself
Please note: for housing benefit we cannot give you more than your total rent (less amounts for electricity or water).
If you disagree with our decision
Decisions on claims for discretionary housing payments are not subject to appeals. If you disagree with the decision on your claim, you should write to the council, and the decision will be reviewed by a different officer:

Benefit Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
NE63 9XL
Change of circumstances
If your circumstances change, inform us immediately. If the change means we have to reduce your discretionary housing payment, you may have to pay back some or all of the payment we have already paid to you.

Redundancy & benefits

If your job finishes due to redundancy or a voluntary severance scheme, you may need to claim social security benefits.

Payments you get from your employer in these situations may affect benefits and the rules surrounding this are complicated.

Therefore, we recommend you always seek independent advice.

The Money Advice Service provide useful information on redundancies.

Help & advice - managing your money & debt

If you are concerned about managing your money, or you have debts – try not to worry – but do not ignore your problem. If you cannot pay your rent because of money problems, you may be evicted from your home. You must ask for help.

If you are struggling to live on the money you have, or are experiencing problems with debt, you may want to think about whether you are getting all the benefits or tax credits you are entitled to.

For more information and advice, visit gov.uk.

The central government money advice section offers a wide range of public service information and links to other organisations you may find useful if you are looking for help/advice.