Preventing homelessness

All your questions answered

Where can I go if I am facing homelessness?

If you are facing homelessness, or are threatened by homelessness, there are lots of different organisations and charities who can help provide support, advice and assistance.

Homelessness does not always have to equal living on the streets and you can be homeless if you have somewhere temporary to live but it is unsuitable for you to stay there.

In some circumstances, your local council may have a legal duty to provide emergency support and accommodation to you if you have ‘priority need’. Some people automatically have this need, such as if you have children, are suffering from or at risk of domestic violence, are pregnant and other reasons. Your local council may also be able to provide support if you are at risk or threatened with homelessness. 

This may depend on your immigration status and your right to stay in the UK could be impacted if you are homeless or sleeping rough. Please seek specialist advice if you are afraid that your immigration status could be impacted by being homeless. 

There are also several UK Charities who can help provide advice, support and guidance to those who are homeless or are threatened by homelessness. These include Shelter, the Salvation Army, Crisis, Homeless Link, and Citizens Advice.

If you are threatened with homelessness, it is best to seek advice as soon as you can prior to becoming homeless, or once you know that you are threatened with homelessness. Your actions can impact your ability to receive support and help from your local council in some circumstances

Can my local council help me if I’m homeless?

You can apply to your local council for support if you are currently homeless, or if you will become homeless in the next eight weeks. This can also be if you have received a section 21 eviction notice and the date of eviction on this is less than 8 weeks away.

The council will deal with applications on a case-by-case basis, so if you are unsure about whether you can be supported, it is best to seek advice and apply.

Your immigration status may be impacted by an application for homelessness support if you are sleeping rough and are homeless. You cannot apply for homeless support if you don’t have a right to be in the UK, if you are a visitor or are seeking asylum, or have a status of no recourse to public funds (NRPF) on your immigration status.

If the council determines that you are homeless, they will check what help they can give you. If you are threatened with homelessness, they will first see if they can help you stay in your home. If you are already homeless, they will first see if they can help find you a new home. If you are eligible for help and are in ‘priority need’, the council may also be able to give you emergency housing. This can be accommodation such as a bed and breakfast.

Your council may also be able to support you in finding longer-term housing depending on your circumstances.

How can housing providers support tenants UK?

Housing providers can assist tenants in a number of ways through the cost of living crisis both to prevent homelessness and to help tenants with long term financial security.

Using the Better Off Calculator, housing providers can help their tenants identify any unclaimed national or local benefits. This can help improve their monthly income every month and help reduce essential costs such as Council Tax. Furthermore, through modelling common social tariffs and other discounts on the calculator, claimants can also see whether they are eligible for other support such as water social tariffs, broadband social tariffs, healthy start, and much more. This can mean that tenants can both increase their monthly income and reduce their monthly costs.

Furthermore, housing providers can also assist with giving tenants debt advice and budgeting guidance if they are falling behind on payments, or are falling into debt. This can help people afford manageable payments or find fitting debt solutions for their situations, and help provide long-term stability.

How can local authorities prevent homelessness?

Using the Low-Income Family Tracker (LIFT) dashboard, Local Authorities are able to view household finances on a house by house basis to target support on an individual basis. Local Authorities can use the LIFT dashboard to help target campaigns to improve benefit take-up in different areas such as Pension Credit, and help target support at those households who are falling into debt.

Local Authorities can use both council tax and rent arrears data, as well as Universal Credit data to get a detailed and up to date picture of household finances. This means that councils can support households when they initially fall into debt, or if they are far behind on rent or council tax payments.

Read: How one council identified three preventative ways to support residents in debt

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