Prison leavers

What do I need to know?

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If you are going into prison or already in prison, it’s important that you sort out any housing issues so you don’t have problems when you are released.

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When you are in prison you should be able to get help from the prison, the youth offending team or a service such as Prison Link Cymru.

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If you have come out of prison and are sofa surfing or have nowhere to stay, then you are homeless. You should go to the council for help.

Find Out More

When you are in prison you can get housing advice from the prison resettlement team and services like Prison Link Cymru.

Some of the help they can give you include:

  • contacting the council if you are claiming housing benefit (HB) and checking to see if your rent will be paid whilst you are in prison. HB can still be paid for up to 13 weeks if you are sentenced and 52 weeks if you are on remand – for more details, click here
  • contacting the DWP if you claim universal credit (UC) housing costs to help make sure your housing costs can still be paid whilst you are in prison. UC housing costs can still be paid for 26 weeks if you are on remand or sentenced – for more details, click here
  • helping you manage rent arrears
  • helping to prevent you losing your property whilst you are in prison.

If you would like help from Prison Link Cymru complete an application on the wing or, if you have email, send [email protected] an email with your details. Staff will get back to you by email within 72 hours and will pay for any replies you have to submit.

Before you leave prison you should be given help from a resettlement caseworker to get ready for life after you leave. This should include help to:

If you spent more than 15 nights in custody you are entitled to:

  • £46 discharge grant
  • £50 additional grant if you are going into an accommodation placement. This grant will be paid directly to the provider of the accommodation. Ask your resettlement caseworker for more information and to see if you can apply.

Your local council should be able to help with your housing.

If it was not done for you in prison you need to make a homelessness application to your local council as soon as you can. You can make an application yourself and do not need a professional to help you with it. Click here to find contact details for your local council.

You can make a homelessness application even if you are sofa surfing.

Applying to the council as homeless can be quite frightening. Use our step by step guide to see what is involved.

Your Youth Offending Team worker will work closely with the homeless team to get the best outcome for you.

If the council thinks you may be:

  • homeless
  • eligible for help, and
  • have a priority need

they should offer you emergency housing while they are deciding what else they can do for you.

You will be in priority need if you are:

  • 16 or 17
  • 18 to 21 and have spent some time in care (even if just for one night)
  • 18 to 21 and at risk of being exploited
  • vulnerable as a result of your time in prison, provided you have a local connection with the area you are applying to.

There might be other reasons why you should be considered to be in priority need. Have a look at our advice page for more details.

If you are not sure about what information to give to the council, or where to go for help, contact our advice team by clicking on the webchat, helpline or email options below.

The council might ask you some questions to help them decide if you are vulnerable because of the time you spent in prison. Some of the issues they might consider are:

  • how long you were in prison
  • whether you suffered any trauma or difficulties when you were in prison
  • how long ago you were released
  • whether you have managed to find and keep accommodation since leaving prison
  • whether you have had any support, supervision, or care since leaving prison.

If the council decides that they are not going to offer you emergency accommodation, you should get advice immediately. You may be be able to ask them to look at the decision again but you have to do this within 21 days. This is called asking for a review.

You can also contact your youth offending team worker or Probation Officer. They might be able to refer you to a hostel or talk through other housing options with you.

On your release from prison you will be able to make a claim for universal credit. This claim can include a claim for help towards your housing costs.

You can also make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) which you do not have to pay back. It can help you pay rent if you are struggling

If you are really struggling with money on your release you can apply to the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF). The fund provides two types of grants that you don’t have to pay back. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply here.

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08000 495 495

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Rydym yn ymddiheuro na fedrwn ddarparu’r wybodaeth yma yn Gymraeg, ond os hoffech siarad ag ymgynghorydd yn Gymraeg yna cysylltwch ar 08000 495 495.
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 08000 495 495.

This page was last updated on: January 26, 2022

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.