Housing benefits

There are several kinds of benefits related to housing: 

  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax discounts and exemptions

Housing benefit

Housing benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Local councils can consider awarding Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to top up existing awards of Housing Benefit, Universal Credit Housing Costs and also Council Tax Support for those experiencing financial difficulties who may be struggling to keep up with their rent, council tax or other essential living costs.

To be able to apply you’ll need to already be receiving some Housing Benefit, Universal Credit Housing Costs or Council Tax Support. They are usually paid to top up your existing award but can also be considered for one-off payments towards rent arrears, deposits when moving to a new home, or rent in advance. Discretionary Housing Payments, as the name suggests, are paid at the discretion of the local council. They are only awarded for a limited period and are only intended to be a temporary solution to tide you over until your financial situation improves. 

You should contact your local council to apply. The Entitled To website has a useful guide to Discretionary Housing Payments.

Council tax

Some people on low incomes are eligible for a discount on council tax. The Citizens Advice website explains how to apply for a council tax reduction.

Councils can also provide discretionary help with council tax. If you already get a discount on your council tax and are experiencing financial difficulties, speak to your local council and ask them what other help they can provide.

The benefit cap

The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age.

Non-dependants/people who live with you

If you live with people other than a partner or children, this can affect your benefit entitlement. The rules on non-dependants are explained on the Entitled To website.