Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Homeless?
The purpose of this blog post is to help in answering the question of whether you can claim benefits if you are homeless. For a detailed overview of the topic, we will also discuss if homeless individuals can claim housing through their local council as well as review any other forms of support that they can get.
Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Homeless?
Yes, you can claim benefits if you are homeless. The main benefit that a homeless individual can claim is Universal Credit, which is primarily intended for anyone who is 18 years old (in some cases 16 and 17-year-olds can also qualify) and on a low income.
If you are homeless with a child younger than three years of age or have a health condition or disability, you will get additional payments added to your Universal Credit claim. These payments will be over and above the standard allowance rate that you are eligible for.
In addition to Universal Credit, you may be able to claim from the following list of benefits, if you qualify to meet the eligibility criteria for each one separately:
- Attendance Allowance
- Basic State Pension
- Child Benefit
- New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance
- New Style Employment and Support Allowance
- New State Pension
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Local Welfare Provision
- Maternity Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Carer’s Allowance
- Bereavement Benefits
Since Universal Credit has replaced Housing Benefit, if you are homeless and claiming Universal Credit, your payments will include an amount that covers your housing costs so that you find the support you need to move into a house; either on your own or through the support of your local council authorities.
If you have urgent expenses to be taken care of and cannot wait for the first Universal Credit payment to arrive after your claim is approved (it can take up to 5 weeks for your first payment), you can speak to your work coach or call the Universal Credit helpline at 0800 328 5644 to apply for an advance payment. This amount can be paid back via deductions from future Universal Credit payments over the next 24 months.
According to a recent article, homeless individuals who are under the age of 35 and qualify for the Shared Accommodation Rate can expect an added amount of £400 on top of their standard allowance for Universal Credit due to their vulnerable status.
When you apply for Universal Credit and need to provide an address, you can consider the following options:
- a hostel that you are staying in
- residence of a friend or family member
- a day centre
- your local JobCentre Plus office
If you do not have access to a bank, building society or credit union account to receive benefits payments, you can opt for the Payment Exception Service with the guidance of JobCentre Plus.
Can You Get Housing If You Are Homeless?
Yes, you can get housing through the support of your local council office if you are homeless. If someone is living on the streets, in unhygienic or overcrowded conditions, councils can provide them with an emergency shelter on an immediate basis.
If you are homeless, you will rank in the top priority band for council housing so that you have a permanent place to live for the long term.
To be eligible for a council house, the claimant should meet the below eligibility criteria:
- be a British or Irish citizen, living under the settled status from the EU settlement scheme, have an indefinite leave to remain, have refugee status or humanitarian protection
- ranked in high priority need of housing
- classed as legally homeless
- can prove that they are not intentionally homeless
- have a local connection to the area or you will be housed in a council district where you have one (unless you are homeless due to domestic abuse)
What Other Help Can You Get If You Are Homeless?
Once you start receiving benefits, you can also seek further help with a Budgeting Loan after six months.
This is an interest-free loan that can be paid back to the DWP through future deductions from your benefit payments. It will provide you support for the following expenses:
- advance rent
- purchase of household items, such as furniture or white goods
- costs for moving or maintenance regarding your residence
- clothing and footwear
- repayment of any loans you may have taken
- expenses linked to a new job or travel within the UK
- maternity costs
- funeral costs
While you will be provided immediate shelter on an immediate basis and will be a priority for council housing in the long run, your local council office can also help you with the following solutions if you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the immediate future:
- provide support and advice for housing
- accommodate you in an emergency shelter
- help you keep your home if it is possible
- provide support and assistance if you need help in finding a home
- provide you with a council home for long-term housing
Some people are aware that you can seek help from your local council if you are homeless, however, you can also ask the council for help with accommodation 8 weeks in advance by applying with a homeless application if you fear that you will be homeless,
What Counts As Being Homeless?
To be considered homeless, an individual needs to meet the below criteria:
- If anyone is sleeping off their friend’s sofa or living under cramped/overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, they will also qualify as homeless. This indicates that you don’t have to be rough sleeping to be considered homeless.
- When the council extends help for homelessness, this includes being legally homeless or being threatened with homelessness in the immediate future.
- If someone is legally homeless, it means that they have nowhere to live in the UK, they have a home in the UK but can’t access it, they can’t live in their home because of abuse, poor conditions or it is no longer affordable or they have no appropriate place to keep their home if it is moveable such as a caravan or houseboat.
- Threatened for homelessness includes a tenant who has been asked to leave their home within 8 weeks and has nowhere to live once the time ends or a tenant has been issued a valid section 21 notice which does not require the landlord to give a reason for eviction.
The above discussion brings us to the conclusion that you can claim Universal Credit if you are homeless. In addition to this, the council will make sure that you are provided with a shelter on an emergency basis as well as prioritise your claim for permanent residency for council housing.
FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Homeless?
Are homeless people entitled to Universal Credit?
Yes, homeless people are entitled to Universal Credit. They can also get an extra payment to manage their housing costs or if they have a child younger than 3 years old living with them.
Can I claim PIP if I’m homeless?
Yes, you can claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if you are homeless. Your benefit claim for PIP will also not depend on your income, savings or lack of National Insurance contributions.
Can I claim Universal Credit without an address?
Yes, you can claim Universal Credit without an address. You can provide the DWP with a care-of address. This can be the address of a hostel that you are staying in, the residence of a friend or family member, a day centre or your local JobCentre Plus office.
Can you get Universal Credit if you don’t pay rent?
Yes, you can get Universal Credit if you don’t pay rent. In this case, you will qualify for the standard allowance of Universal Credit without the added amount of housing costs.
What help can homeless people get?
In addition to welfare benefits, homeless people can get emergency housing and advance payments on their benefits. Shelter’s Housing advice can help with details if you contact them on their website or call their helpline on 0808 800 4444.
Claiming benefits when homeless on the streets – Shelter England
Universal Credit and homeless people: guide for supporting organisations – GOV.UK
Check if you can apply for homeless help – Citizens Advice
Help if you’re homeless or about to become homeless – GOV.UK