There might be several reasons why your Housing Benefit, or the housing element of your Universal Credit, is not enough to cover your rent.
You rent privately, and the Local Housing Allowance is less than the amount of your rent.
You have a spare bedroom, so your benefit has been reduced. This is sometimes known as the “bedroom tax”.
There are adults living with you who are not your dependants, so your benefit has been reduced.
If you are in this situation, and you are struggling to pay your rent, you could apply for an ongoing Discretionary Housing Payment to make up for this. Your council would decide how long you get the payment for and they will let you know the end date.
You can only apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment for rent arrears if your Housing Benefit, or the housing element of your Universal Credit, was not enough to cover the full amount of rent that you owed at the time.
For example: Your private landlord put up your rent by £10 a month 6 months ago, and your benefit stayed the same. You are now in arrears by £60. You could apply for a £60 Discretionary Housing Payment to cover this.
You cannot apply for a payment to cover rent arrears if your benefit was enough to cover your rent when you went into arrears.
Rent increases due to arrears
If your rent payment is going up because you have rent arrears, you cannot apply for an ongoing Discretionary Housing Payment to cover this increase. You can apply for a single payment to pay off the arrears.
For example: Your Housing Benefit was reduced because a parent moved in with you. You are now in arrears by £100, and your landlord wants to increase your rent to cover the arrears.
You cannot apply for an ongoing Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the rent increase, but you can apply for a £100 single payment to clear the arrears, so your rent will not go up.
When you apply for this single payment, you can also ask for an ongoing payment to cover the amount that your benefit has been reduced by, so you do not fall into arrears again.
If you are moving house and you cannot afford the deposit or advance rent on your new tenancy, you could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover this. You must be getting Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit to apply.
Your council might also have a rent deposit guarantee scheme to help with deposits. Get in touch with your local council to see what they offer.
You cannot use a Discretionary Housing Payment to pay for furniture or removal costs. If you are struggling with these kinds of costs, or if you have been refused a DHP, there might be other grant schemes you can apply to, such as:
local welfare assistance schemes run by your council