Help from social services

If you are homeless or about to become homeless, the councils’ social services department might be able to help you.

This section explains what sort of help social services may be able to offer.

If you wish to find details of the support available from social services in your area, then go to socialcareinfo.net and type in your postcode.

If you need further help call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 0345 075 5005.

How can social services help?

The type of help that social services may offer can vary widely. It will depend on your particular circumstances and needs.

Children and young people

The law says that social services have to promote the well-being of any person aged under 18 who is in need of care and support. If you are homeless and aged under 18, social services should consider you to be in need of care and support, should carry out a needs assessment and provide appropriate care and support.

The type of care and support social services can provide can vary and depends on your needs. They might:

  • provide accommodation for you themselves
  • help you to raise money for a deposit on a private rented place
  • provide financial support.

If you are homeless, 16 or 17 years old and have been in care, social services usually has to provide you with accommodation and financial support until you are 18.

Families with children
Where the whole family asks social services for help, social services only have a duty towards the children and young people in the family (unless the adults have special needs). However, they should aim to help the young person remain with the family. This means that they can provide accommodation for the whole family. Whether they do this or not depends upon them balancing your needs with the demands upon them to help others. If social services decide not to help the whole family they may instead offer to help the children only by providing accommodation in a care home. If this happens, get advice immediately.

People who are ill, disabled or elderly
If you are ill, disabled or elderly and you are homeless, social services should consider you to be in need or care and support and may have to provide you with accommodation. This will depend on a needs assessment and whether there are any other ways you could get accommodation. If the housing department can’t help and you are still homeless, social services may have to help you find accommodation.

The type of help social services provides can vary because it is not defined in law. For example, they might provide accommodation for you themselves, arrange a temporary place in residential care, or help you to raise money for a deposit on a private rented place.

For more information about how to get a social services needs assessment, click here.

Can the council’s housing department get social services involved?

If you are homeless and you have applied to the council housing department for help, it may tell you that it cannot help you and that you should go to social services instead.

This could be because you:

  • are under 18
  • have left care (or are about to do so)
  • are responsible for dependent children
  • are an elderly person
  • are ill or have physical or mental health needs that are not being met.

The council housing department may also refer you to social services if it has a duty to help you but thinks that social services are able to provide more appropriate help (e.g. if you have difficulty living independently).

If the housing department agrees that you qualify for some help, it should offer you emergency housing while the social services department assess your needs.

In cases where you or a member of your household is under 18, and the housing department state that they cannot help you, they should still provide the social services department with help and advice about your housing if needed.

Every council should have set procedures so that the housing and social services departments work together to find the best help for you. You should not be passed between housing and social services without either department taking responsibility. If this happens to you, or you do not understand what either the social services department or housing department are telling you, then get urgent advice.

What if social services won’t help either?

If the council has passed you on to social services, but social services cannot help you in the way that you need, get advice. You may be able to challenge social services by making a complaint, or, in extreme cases, taking legal action.

The law about the help that social services has to provide can be very complicated, so getting advice is essential if you are in this situation. An adviser can inform you of your rights to help from social services and what sort of help they might offer. An adviser should also be able to look into the reasons why the council has come to that decision, and may be able to put arguments to the council on your behalf.

For details of who to complain to if you are not happy about the quality of the care service you have been provided with, click here.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

This page was last updated on: January 11, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.