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Extra help if you are in financial difficulty

You may be able to get extra money or discounts to help you with your Rent or Council Tax if you are in severe financial difficulty.

Extra help with housing costs

If you're getting some Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Universal Credit which includes a housing element towards your rent, you may be able to get extra help if you are in severe hardship. These are called Discretionary Housing Payments.

They are not benefit payments, but they will be paid with your Housing Benefit Payments.

If you do not qualify for Housing Benefit or do not receive a housing element within your Universal Credit award you are not able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments.

The Government only allows us to spend a small amount of money on this help. So any extra help given may not be for the full difference between your benefit and rent, and may only be paid for a short period of time.

However, at the end of this period you would have the right to re-apply and your circumstances would then be reviewed to see if any extra payments can be awarded again and at what rate.

Apply for extra help with housing costs

You can apply for extra help with housing costs (Discretionary Housing Payments) (PDF, 158KB) if you:

  • Are claiming Housing Benefit
  • Are claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support
  • Have a shortfall between your Council Tax and Council Tax Support
  • Have a shortfall between your rent and Housing Benefit

Before you apply you should try the following options (otherwise your claim may not be considered):

  • Have you contacted your landlord to see if more suitable accommodation is available
  • Have you spoken to your landlord to see if you can re-negotiate your rent
  • If you have debt problems, have you looked for help from organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Have you applied for all the benefits that are available to you

The following cannot be covered by Discretionary Housing Payments:

  • Charges for water or sewerage
  • Increase in rent due to arrears
  • Second Adult Rebate
  • Suspensions of benefit
  • Sanctions (reduction in benefit paid)
  • Ineligible services (eg fuel, hot water, lighting, meals)

When applying you will be asked to tell us about your expenses. Read a guide to expenses when applying for extra help with housing costs (Discretionary Housing Payments).

Extra Council Tax discount

You may be able to get an extra discount on your Council Tax if you are in severe financial difficulty. This discount is called the Council Tax Discretionary Discount.

This discount is only available for Council Tax, but applicants do not have to be receiving Council Tax Support.

Apply for extra Council Tax discount

You can apply for an extra Council Tax discount (Council Tax Discretionary Discount) (PDF, 152KB) if you:

  • Are claiming Council Tax Support
  • Have a shortfall between your Council Tax and Council Tax Support
  • Have a shortfall in your council tax due to the changes in the council tax exemptions for uninhabitable or empty properties

Any discount will be deducted from your Council Tax bill – it is not an emergency payment, or cash payment. The amount of discount given depends on your circumstances.

When applying you will be asked to tell us about your expenses. Read a guide to expenses when applying for an extra Council Tax Discount (Council Tax Discretionary Discount).

Emergency situations

The government has now stopped the funding for local welfare assistance schemes. Therefore Leicestershire County Council no longer provides support through the Leicestershire Welfare Provision service to people in emergency situations. The county council now directs people to other agencies for help and advice.

Find out about different services that may help if you are in an emergency situation.

Information about your expenses

The application forms for an extra Council Tax discount (Council Tax Discretionary Discount) (PDF, 152KB), and extra help with housing costs (Discretionary Housing Payments) (PDF, 158KB) ask for information about your expenses.

For these applications we class expenses as either essential or non-essential.

Essential expenses include:

  • Public transport (for work, school, shopping etc)
  • Car insurance, MOT and car maintenance (the need for a car will be considered depending on your circumstances)
  • Vehicle tax
  • Fuel (petrol, diesel, oil etc)
  • Food and milk
  • Cleaning and toiletries
  • Laundry
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Nappies and baby items
  • Health on the NHS only (dentist, glasses, prescriptions, health insurance) – if you are getting certain benefits you may already be getting some of these for free
  • Essential house repairs if you own or have a mortgage on your property (If you rent these will be the responsibility of the landlord)
  • School meals

Non-essential expenses include:

  • Breakdown or recovery
  • Parking charges or tolls
  • Taxis (unless you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and this is your only means of transport)
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Cigarettes, tobacco and sweets
  • Alcohol
  • Dry cleaning laundry
  • Pet food
  • Hairdressing and hair cuts
  • Pocket money and school trips
  • Lottery and pools etc
  • Hobbies, leisure and sport activities including going to the pub, outings, going to the gym etc
  • Gifts (Christmas, birthdays, charity etc)
  • Vet bills and pet insurance
  • Cable, satellite and internet