Can Big Issue Sellers Claim Benefits?

If you are wondering whether or not Big Issue sellers can claim benefits in the UK, you will find the answer to your question in the following blog post as we explore the possibilities for Big Issue sellers for claiming benefits in the UK. We will also analyse some of the potential reasons that cause challenges for Big Issue sellers in claiming benefits; as well as summarise a list of suggestions to them for improving their chances of claiming benefits successfully.

Can Big Issue Sellers Claim Benefits?

Yes, Big Issue sellers can claim benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria for the benefits they claim; as well as provide relevant documentation regarding their citizenship or ride to reside in the UK.

It is important to note that the Big Issue is a street newspaper which is mostly sold by homeless or vulnerably housed individuals in the UK. While they are on a low income, being homeless or living in vulnerable conditions means that most of them do not have access to a bank, building society or credit union account. This makes it difficult for Big Issue sellers to claim benefits and receive payments.

However, if they qualify for the eligibility criteria, they can claim and receive payments for Housing Benefit, Universal Credit and the housing element of Universal Credit. The reason for this is that these payments can also be paid through a Post Office or a Paypoint outlet in the absence of a bank account. 

Additionally, claimants who are unable to provide a fixed address for their benefits claim due to their living can provide the address of a friend, family member, hostel that they are living in, daycare or their local Jobcentre Plus office.

If they are successful in their benefits claim, Big Issue sellers may be able to receive up to £400 a week, or £20,800 a year, to cover their rent.

However, according to DailyMail, a Big Issue seller who also happens to be an EU migrant is able to claim £25,547.60 annually in benefits after successful legal proceedings to support her case. She receives £326 in Tax Credits, £60.50 in Child Benefits, £49.30 in DLA and £55.50 in Carers’ Allowance each week.

An alternative solution that Big Issue sellers may consider to claim benefits successfully is to look for other financial services to receive their benefits payments. These may include prepaid debit cards or basic bank accounts and may have fewer requirements for opening an account. 

That said, it is important to note that the availability and accessibility of specific services may vary depending on the location and individual circumstances. Therefore, it is recommended that Big Issue sellers reach out to local support organisations, community centres, or government agencies for guidance and tailored assistance for their benefits claims.

Why Is It Difficult For Big Issue Sellers To Claim Benefits?

Some of the reasons why Big Issue sellers find it difficult to claim benefits include the following:

  • Many Big Issue sellers are on a low income and homeless. Due to this, they do not have access to a bank, building society or credit union account; which makes it difficult to claim benefits payments other than Universal Credit.
  • Sellers of The Big Issue are considered self-employed rather than employees of the organisation. This classification can complicate the process of claiming benefits because the self-employed often have different requirements and criteria compared to regular employees.
  • Benefit programs in the UK often have income and means-testing measures to determine eligibility. Although sellers of The Big Issue earn income from selling the magazine, they may struggle to meet the specific thresholds required to qualify for certain benefits. The income earned from selling the magazine can sometimes affect the level of benefits or render individuals ineligible.
  • Claiming benefits generally requires providing various forms of documentation and evidence to support the application. Some sellers of The Big Issue may need more paperwork, such as proof of address or identification, which can make the process more challenging. Homeless individuals, in particular, may face difficulties in obtaining and maintaining the required documentation.
  • The income earned by selling The Big Issue can fluctuate significantly depending on factors like weather conditions, location, and customer demand. The unpredictable nature of earnings can make it difficult for vendors to meet the consistent income requirements necessary to claim benefits.

How Can Big Issue Sellers Seek Advice On Claiming Benefits?

Claiming benefits for Big Issue sellers who are homeless, have an inconsistent income, have no bank account, no fixed address and may lack proper documentation can be challenging. However, there are some potential options and support available:

  • Homeless individuals can reach out to local organisations that provide support to homeless populations. These organisations may offer guidance on navigating the benefits system and help to access relevant services, such as obtaining documentation or finding temporary accommodation.
  • Despite the challenges, Big Issue sellers can visit their local Jobcentre Plus office to discuss their situation and explore potential options for benefit eligibility. Jobcentre Plus staff can provide advice and assistance tailored to individual circumstances.
  • If faced with legal or immigration-related challenges, seeking advice from immigration or housing lawyers, or contacting local advocacy groups, can be beneficial. These professionals can provide guidance on navigating the legal aspects and potential entitlements for individuals who may not have UK citizenship or proper documentation.
  • In some cases, homeless individuals may be eligible for emergency support services or temporary accommodation provided by local authorities. These services can act as a temporary safety net while individuals work on addressing their documentation or income issues.


Yes, Big Issue sellers can claim benefits as long as they are able to meet the eligibility criteria and provide the required documentation in support of their claim. However, most of them are only able to claim Universal Credit as they are either homeless or at risk of homelessness due to being on a low income. Due to this, many Big Issue sellers are unable to provide a fixed address or bank account details for a successful benefits claim.



£20,000 benefits for migrants who sell The Big Issue | UK | News |