Discretionary housing payments in Scotland

01 December 2020

Responsibility for discretionary housing payments transferred to Scotland in April 2017. If your universal credit or housing benefit does not cover all of your rent or other housing costs and you need assistance to meet the shortfall, you may be able to get a DHP from your local authority.

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Who can get a discretionary housing payment

You can get a discretionary housing payment from your local authority if you are entitled to housing benefit to universal credit which includes an amount for rent costs. Discretionary housing payments are for help with your rent - for example because:

  • your benefit is reduced because of the bedroom tax or the benefit cap;
  • the local housing allowance does not cover your full rent;
  • your benefit does not cover your rent because of non-dependant deductions;
  • you need help with a rent deposit or rent in advance; or
  • you need help with removal expenses.

The Scottish government has provided funding through discretionary housing payments to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax. This means that if you are affected by the bedroom tax and you apply to your local authority for a discretionary housing payment you should get one.

However, the scheme is discretionary so the local authority can decide whether to pay you, how much to pay and for how long.

How much are discretionary housing payments

Your local authority decides how much discretionary housing payment to award you, and how long for. This could be a one-off payment, or the same amount every week or month. But for weekly or monthly payments, the amount of a discretionary housing payment cannot be more than the amount of universal credit or housing benefit that you get to help with your rent.

The local authority decides how to pay you. For example, it could be paid alongside your housing benefit, direct to your landlord or into your bank account.

Claiming discretionary housing payments

You claim a discretionary housing payment from your local authority, whether you are getting housing benefit or universal credit. The rules on how you can claim are set by your local authority.

If you disagree with a decision about a discretionary housing payment you can challenge this decision by requesting a review.

Read about the discretionary housing payment legislation and guidance.

Future changes
Changing the law about discretionary housing payments

The Scottish government plans to change the law about discretionary housing payments, and will then have to produce guidance to local authorities about them. It is not known when this will happen.

Abolishing the bedroom tax

The Scottish Government has the power to decide how much help with rent people can get in universal credit. It says that it will no longer make bedroom tax reductions, but it is not clear when this will happen.

When the change is made and there are no bedroom tax reductions, some people will see their extra universal credit reduced by the benefit cap instead. The Scottish government will make sure that no-one loses out by introducing ‘housing assistance’. It is expected that this will be paid with your universal credit, and you will not need to do anything.