Can I claim Universal Credit if I am homeless?
Yes. Just because you are homeless does not mean that you cannot claim Universal Credit (UC). Take a look at the advice below to help you.
Making the application
Before you start, have a look at our advice on Applying for Universal Credit .
If you need help filling in the form online at the Jobcentre, make sure you ask a member of staff. They should refer you for help from Citizens Advice under the Help to Claim service.
It can take around an hour to fill in the form, possibly longer.
I do not have an address, email address or bank account
If you do not have an address, put on the form the address of:
- a hostel you last stayed at
- a family member you trust, or
- the Jobcentre.
The form will ask you for an email address. If you do not have one the Jobcentre should help you set one up, or put you in touch with someone who can do that for you.
UC payments are usually made directly into your bank, building society or credit union account. If you do not have an account speak to the Jobcentre. They might be able to set up payments through the Payment Exception Service. Payments are put straight on to a card, voucher or text. You then take that to your nearest PayPoint outlet to collect the money.
The Jobcentre should also give you help to open a bank account.
What do I do next?
Once you have filled in the online form, use the Jobcentre phone to book your ‘Initial Evidence Interview’. This interview will be with someone called your ‘work coach’.
Ring the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644 to book your interview. (Welsh language : 0800 328 1744).
If you forget to book your interview, you should get a text or an email reminding you to do it.
When you go back for your interview you should take with you any documents you have, including any ID. See our checklist of things you can take with you. If you do not have everything, don’t worry – just take as much as you have.
If you do not have any identification the Jobcentre should still be able to help you. They may :
- ask you some security questions (if you have claimed benefits before)
- ask for a letter from a professional such as a doctor, social worker or support worker, or
- check to see whether anyone who works in the Jobcentre knows you.
It’s very important you go to the interview, even if it is hard to get there. If you don’t go your claim for UC might be closed and you will have to start all over again. This will mean that you could lose out on money.
If you can’t get to the interview call the UC helpline straight away, or log on to your online account and explain why you can’t make it.
Your ‘Claimant Commitment’
Your workcoach will want to agree with you what you are going to do to look for work. This is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
It’s important that you can keep to what you agree in your Claimant Commitment. So make sure you tell your work coach about any issues you may have, such as problems with your mental health or addiction. Your work coach might be able to:
- help you get some support
- reduce the amount of time each week that you should be looking for work
- change the type of activities you are expected to do.
If you are homeless, and actively looking for somewhere to live, your work coach might agree that you do not have to look for work for a temporary period. This could give you time to look for somewhere to live.
Make sure you tell your work coach if you are struggling to keep to what you have agreed. Your payments might stop if you don’t.
Help with your payments
You will normally have to wait at least 5 weeks before any UC payments are made.
If you haven’t got enough to live on before your first payment is made, you can apply for an advance payment. To ask for an advance, you will need to talk to your work coach at the Jobcentre, request one in your online journal, or ring the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644. (Welsh language : 0800 328 1744).
Changes to the way you are paid
UC is usually paid in to your bank account once a month.
If you are worried about getting paid monthly you can ask your work coach for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). This could mean:
- UC is paid to you more often
- any payments for your rent go straight to your landlord.
Money advice or budgeting support
If you need further help with your money or you are struggling because of the way your UC is paid, speak to your work coach. They should be able to sort out some help and support for you. This is known as ‘Personal Budgeting Support’.
Keeping in touch
It is important that you stay in touch with your work coach. The best way of doing this is to regularly log on to your online account. If you do not have internet access or wifi go to your local library or Jobcentre and ask to use the computers there.
Help with housing
Where can I get more help?
If you need more help sorting out your UC claim or you are struggling with money, get advice as soon as you can. There are organisations that can help. Contact Citizens Advice for support under the Help to Claim service or use the advicelocal guide to find an adviser in your area.
Have a look at this Guide on applying for UC if you are homeless.