ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

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Homeless Benefits: A Guide to Your Financial Entitlement

You are entitled to support if you are homeless or facing the risk of eviction. Financial benefits, housing support and access to government employment programmes are all key to helping homeless people gain their independence. However, for the homeless, benefits – and the process of claiming them – can sometimes seem confusing. That’s why we’re here to help with our handy guide to your entitlement.

Can Homeless People Claim Benefits?

So many things become tricky if you don’t have a place to call home, like getting a bank account or claiming benefits. After all, how can you receive the benefits you’re entitled to if you have no bank account for them to be deposited into? Luckily, if you are sleeping rough or have no permanent address, you are still entitled to benefits – those who have no fixed abode can use the address of a friend or family member, a hostel or day centre, or even the local job centre on the application form.

The next hurdle is for many is where the benefits payments can go; many without a permanent address have no bank or building society account, and this can make accessing benefits a real challenge for young homeless people.

However, you can use a Post Office account to collect your benefit payments, or arrange to have them paid into the account of someone you trust. If these are not an option, you can use the Payment Exception Service. This can be organised through the job centre and allows you to collect funds at PayPoint outlets.

Benefits for Homeless People

Universal Credit

One of the main benefits for homeless people is Universal Credit. This is usually paid monthly and is available for those out of work or on a low income who are aged 18 or over. You may be entitled to additional Universal Credit payments if you are homeless with a child [3], have housing costs or have a health condition or disability.

To make an application for Universal Credit, you will need to provide information such as your address (or a care address), your email, phone, and bank account. You’ll also need to show evidence of your identity. You can get help with setting up an email address at the job centre or Citizen’s Advice. No form of ID? No problem – you can contact the Universal Credit helpline and they’ll help you make your claim.

Housing Support

Universal Credit is the payment that replaced housing benefit. So, your Universal Credit payment will include costs for housing, although the amount you receive will vary depending on your location. If you are sleeping rough, your payment amounts may be lower.

Budgeting Loans

If you have been receiving certain benefits for six months, you may be entitled to a Budgeting Loan. These replaced Crisis Loans and can help you cover the cost of various essentials, including:

  • Rent in advance
  • Household items, such as furniture or white goods
  • Moving or maintenance costs
  • Clothes and footwear
  • Repayment of certain loans
  • Costs linked to new employment or travel within the UK
  • Maternity costs
  • Funeral costs

Repayments for Budgeting Loans are automatically deducted from your benefit payments. They only include the cost of the loan; there aren’t any interest costs. The payment amounts will be based on your income and you typically must repay the full loan within two years. If you’re eligible, you can apply for a Budgeting Loan online.

Work and Training Programmes

While homeless benefits are crucial for covering essential day-to-day costs, work and training programmes can help people find a permanent route out of homelessness. The government’s Jobcentre Plus service is focused on helping people who are receiving benefits find work and training. However, there are fears that these services often leave homeless claimants feeling unsupported.

At Centrepoint, we help provide young people with learning opportunities through our Centrepoint Works offering. We run higher education workshops and classes to allow homeless youth to develop new skills and knowledge. We can also help you find work experience, develop key life skills, and receive guidance on CV writing and job searching.

If you’re facing homelessness in England and are aged 16-25 years, you can contact us to receive guidance on claiming benefits, getting training and finding work.

You can learn more about Universal Credit here.

You can find out more about Centrepoint Works here.

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