This blog will try to guide the reader on how to go about claiming benefits despite not having an address. These benefits primarily fall under the Universal Credit umbrella. 

The different permutations of residence and accommodation, along with the means to acquire benefits through Universal Credit and the institutions and people that can assist in the process will also be outlined.

In addition, the requirements and the qualifications needed to procure benefits without an address have been explained.This blog will attempt to clarify any issues to make the receipt of benefits easier and less of a hassle. 

Can you claim benefits without an address ?

Yes, the homeless and those not in possession of an address can claim benefits under the Universal Credit Scheme. Even without a fixed/permanent or even temporary address which is secure for a certain period of time , individuals can claim benefits by providing the address of wherever you are currently put up. 

These could include : 

  • Day centers for the homeless and those who sleep on the streets 
  • The address of either your friend or the family who is providing you with lodging 
  • Any hostel that you are residing in for the time being 
  • Even the local job center address could suffice 

Ancillary Requirements to Claim Benefits 

It is important to note that only those entitled to benefits can claim these. In addition, if they do not have a bank account or accounts affiliated to a building society or the post office, then they can utilize the Payment Exception Service (PES), which can be availed through the local job center. 

Moreover, the benefits that can be availed without an address are further limited if the above conditions are not satisfied i.e. if a person sleeps on the streets or without any accommodation at all like the ones mentioned above. 

To ensure that you do not receive less benefit because you are homeless, sleeping on the streets or have no accommodation (even temporary), you can request and avail the services of the local day centers to provide you with an address. 

This can assist in receiving benefits on par with others who don’t have an address, but have accommodation like those listed above e.g. friends, another family, hostel , day center, job center etc.  

Options Available when the Beneficiary has no Address ? 

This section further extrapolates on the options available to an individual who does not have a fixed address. In this scenario, there are  four possible living arrangements that are recognized and incorporated into the benefits program. 

Living in a hostel 

The individual could be residing in a hostel, and can thus utilize the hostel address for claiming benefits. However, in this case, the Universal Credit payment will not include the Housing element/benefit. 

The beneficiary has to make a separate claim to avail Housing Benefit through the local authority. The local authority will then assist in obtaining housing support for housing costs. 

Staying with friends or another family 

With the permission of the friend or family one is residing with currency, their home address can be utilized to avail Universal Credit benefits (without caveats). This is permitted for people who do not have an address of their own and want to claim benefits. 

Put up at the Day Center

Individuals who sleep on the streets usually or are homeless often utilize the services of day centers for a place to rest at night etc.  If they regularly use the day centers, they could cite the day center address to avail of benefits. 

Local Job Centers 

Under very exceptional circumstances, where the individual is homeless, sleeps on the streets and does not have access to any accomodation/address as illustrated above, the local job centers address can be used. 

However, as we shall see below , they play a role in obtaining better accommodation for people without an address,  that is more legally admissible for claiming benefits. 

Benefits brought in by the HRA (Homelessness Reduction Act), 2018

Through this act, the entire ecosystem of people without addresses who claim benefits under the Universal Credit system, has been made more proactive and legally streamlined. 

From the 1st of October, 2018, the United Kingdom government has made it mandatory for all job centers to inform the local authorities of any of its beneficiaries who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, irrespective of whether they are priority or whether they have local area connections. 

This obviously is done with the consent of the concerned claimant. This allows the local authorities to provide the homeless or at-risk individuals with housing support or temporary accommodation, through which they can further claim Universal Credit benefits or Housing benefits , or both, whichever is applicable. 

Implementation of HRA to provide benefits to those without an address 

Work Coach

Under the aegis of the local job center, a work coach is assigned to consenting claimants. These work coaches provide several services to beneficiaries who do not have an address. This could be : 

  • Assistance in accessing Universal Credit phones through phones and computers and other equipment
  • Listening to the specific difficulties of claimants and the nature of the benefits required 
  • Proffering advice to the beneficiaries depending upon their situation
  • It could involve translating for homeless people who do not speak English or have difficulty communicating 
  • Providing information about the benefits available and the changes in the amount that can be received, the changes in circumstances that could alter the amount, the ways and means of payment etc. 

Claimant Commitment 

While this facet of the HRA- Homelessness Reduction Act, implementation incorporates the work coach as well, it is crucial to examine it separately. 

The beneficiary should have open and honest discussions with the designated work coach about the difficulties that they are facing. In this context, that would be a detailed discussion of all the elements of the homelessness or risk of homelesness or the difficulty in accessing benefits when the claimant does not have an address. 

This discussion ( called a ‘New Claim Interview’) will yield a “claimant commitment”, which lays down the tasks, work or other  requirements the beneficiary has to fulfill to get access to Universal Credit.

The task could include actively looking for a job, or ensuring other necessities such as a bank account of a Payment Exception Service (PES), etc.  

This process should be attempted to be completed as soon as possible to ensure that support can begin immediately and their distress is alleviated.

Each Claimant Commitment is tailored to the requirements and specific circumstances of the beneficiary. 

Since the Universal Credit payment and its maintenance depend upon this Claimant commitment, it will be reviewed regularly by the work coach. In essence it is a “to-do” list which has  to be completed. 

These have to be completed by the claimant and proof of completion must be available online to be assessed.

Completion will be checked by Universal Credit system before releasing payments. The claimant has to confide in the work coach if he/she/they are facing difficulty in completing any of the requirements,  or if their circumstances alter; these will be reflected in differential payments. 

Since the entire system is online, i.e. the claimant’s assurance or proof of completion of tasks or requirements and the checking of the compliance by the Universal Credit System are all online, beneficiaries without access to phones or computers can ask the work coach for access to the local job center to complete the necessary online formalities. 

Easements for people claiming benefits without an address 

Another facet of the HRA-Work Coach- Claimant Commitment triad is the provision of easements.

Once the work coach has assessed the  intended beneficiary yo be either homeless or at the risk of being homeless, the coach can assess whether the claimant can be provided with easement temporarily.

An easement is a right granted to an individual to use or occupy another person’s property , without the right to possess it legally. It is therefore a temporary solution , until the claimant can find stable accommodation. 

It is granted for a month initially and can be extended on review, if the circumstances so warrant. The easement will be regularly reviewed to ensure that the claimant is taking steps in good faith to find a stable accommodation. 

These efforts will be documented in the Claimant Commitment. 

The provision of an easement also reduces pressure and permits the individual to postpone the part of the Claimant Commitment that focuses on finding a job and replace that with efforts on finding stable accomodation instead. 

Benefits granted to claimant upon acquisition of temporary accommodation

Once a claimant has found temporary accommodation or supported housing of some manner, then he/she is also eligible to claim Housing Benefits to finance any housing costs such as rent or refurbishing etc.

Housing Benefits come under the purview of Universal Credit as well and as detailed above, in some cases are not applicable e.g. hostels but can be claimed in other situations by contacting the local authority/council. 

This also implies that since the housing situation has been taken care of , this change of situation needs to be updated in the claim. 

This means that information on rent to be paid etc. will become the focus of the benefits in certain cases. It could be paid to you or directly to the landlord. 

The movement from easement to stable accommodation, albeit perhaps temporary, also shifts the focus towards another component of the Claimant Commitment. 

Since the person claiming benefits now has an address,they are required to focus on their financial health and stability. 

This, in effect, means that you either have to start looking for or preparing for work opportunities if not starting to work itself. 

This blog has detailed the ways in which a person can claim benefits without an address. The different permutations of residence and accommodation, along with the means to acquire benefits through Universal Credit and the institutions and people that can assist in the process have also been outlined.

In addition, the requirements and the qualifications needed to procure benefits without an address have been explained. 

If you have any comments, suggestions or queries on this topic, please feel free to contact us and leave a message. We welcome your input. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Can you claim benefits without an address ?

Can I claim benefits under Universal Credit  without a permanent address ? 

Yes, you can claim benefits under Universal Credit even if you don’t have a fixed/permanent address. Since an address is deemed necessary for the Universal Credit registration for benefits, you could utilize the address of anhy hostel you may be staying in or any temporary addresses.

For those who sleep on the street, also referred to as rough sleepers, they can, under exceptional circumstances, use the local day center or local job center as their addresses. Further information on how to go about this could be found at Universal Credit and homeless people: guide for supporting organisations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If I am on the verge of becoming homeless or I am already homeless , do I still get benefits under Universal Credit ? 

Yes, you are still entitled to receive benefits under Universal Credit. If you have become homeless and are sleeping on the street i.e. are a rough sleeper, you could utilize the services of the local day center or the local job- center to claim benefits despite not having an address. 

For more information on the process and requirements please refer to Universal Credit and homeless people: guide for supporting organisations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Can I claim benefits if I don’t have an address of my own but I am living with my parents /people that I know ?  

Since it is not your own address, you could claim benefits under the Universal Credit Scheme. However, since you are residing with your own family, thus reducing several other costs, the housing costs component that you receive could be considerably less. 

Living with other people, generally means that you know them to some degree and thus the benefits given to you will be much less. This further reduces if you are staying with parents.

Will Universal Credit cover my entire rent, if I apply for benefits with a temporary address ? 

Universal Credit compensates you for rent along with some other additional housing expenses under its benefits scheme. There are some exceptions, however. For example, those residing in a hostel will not receive the Housing Benefits component from Universal Credits. 

However, under other circumstances, if you find stable accommodation after an easement period or even otherwise, UC provides for the rental expense to be remitted to you or directly to the landlord. In certain circumstances, you may even be able to avail some amount of Council Tax Reduction. 

But the amount of compensation may vary from covering your entire rent, to partial coverage,  to rent plus services, or no coverage at all. It depends upon your living situation and the specific difficulties of the circumstances. 

As mentioned above, the nature of accomodation, along with work circumstances are all assessed through the Claimant Commitment and then compensation is determined. However, other factors remaining constant, you can expect a large part of rental expense/housing expense to be covered by Universal Credit , if not all.

Under the regulations, the claimants must ensure fulfillment of 3 criteria- payment, occupation and liability- to be eligible for UC to cover their housing costs. 

For more information on these matters kindly refer to – Universal Credit and rented housing – frequently asked questions (walthamforest.gov.uk)

Will my landlord be made aware that the rent payments are coming from Universal Credit benefits ? 

Yes. The Department for Work and Pensions will intimate all the social landlords in a given local area that their tenant is a claimant of Universal Credit benefits. This is applicable for social sector tenants. 

If the tenant pays the landlord directly, through the benefits credited to his/her/their own account, then of course, the landlord will not be aware of the source of funding, although they should keep themselves abreast of trends in the social security schemes such as Universal Credit that affect their livelihoods. 

Alternatively, Universal Credit provides for rent and other service charges and in some cases, this rent will be paid directly to the landlord, which means that they will be aware of its origin. 

For more information on this matter please refer to – https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/sites/default/files/uc-rented-housing-faq-Jan16.pdf

References 

  1. Claiming benefits when homeless on the streets. (n.d.). Shelter England. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/homelessness/claiming_benefits_when_homeless_on_the_streets
  2. Universal Credit and homeless people: guide for supporting organisations. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-homeless-people/universal-credit-and-homeless-people-guide-for-supporting-organisations
  3. Can you claim Universal Credit if you’re homeless? (n.d.). Https://Www.turn2us.org.uk/. https://www.turn2us.org.uk/About-Us/News/Can-you-claim-Universal-Credit-if-you-re-homeless
  4. Universal Credit and rented housing – frequently asked questions (walthamforest.gov.uk)
  5. https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/sites/default/files/uc-rented-housing-faq-Jan16.pdf
  6. The government is supporting homeless people to claim Universal Credit, writes Justin Tomlinson. (n.d.). Inside Housing. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/comment/comment/the-government-is-supporting-homeless-people-to-claim-universal-credit-57482
  7. Homeless people’s rights. (n.d.). Shelter Cymru. https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/homelessness/homeless-peoples-rights/
  8. Housing costs and Universal Credit. (n.d.). GOV.UK. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.gov.uk/housing-and-universal-credit/renting-from-private-landlord
  9. Can I claim Universal Credit if I am homeless? (n.d.). Shelter Cymru. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/paying-for-housing/universal-credit/can-i-claim-universal-credit-if-i-am-homeless/
  10. Check if you can get Universal Credit. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/before-you-apply/Check-if-you-can-get-Universal-Credit/

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.