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Claiming benefits and working while homeless

Even if you don't have a fixed address, you still have a right to claim benefits and look for work. Advice on benefits is available from specialist organisations. In addition, some agencies can help you to find work or get on a training course. 

Claiming benefits

Which benefits can I claim?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP, formerly the DSS) pays benefits to people who are out of work or on a low income. These include:

If you are unable to work because of illness or disability, there are other benefits available, such as incapacity benefit and disability living allowance.

Find out more from the  A to Z of benefits that Gov.UK have put together.

How do I apply?

In order to apply for benefits, you'll need to contact your nearest Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus.You can claim online or by calling 0800 055 6688 (lines are open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday). You'll need an address to make your claim but if you don't have a permanent address, you can use a 'care of' address such as a friend, relative or day centre.

The rules on benefits are complicated and it's a good idea to get advice before you make a claim. Your nearest Citizens Advice is a good place to start. In addition, many agencies that help people sleeping on the streets have staff that can help you:

  • find out what you're entitled to
  • fill in application forms
  • appeal should your application be turned down.

What if I'm already claiming benefits?

If you are already getting benefits, you can continue to do so. If you get direct payments of benefits into your bank account or post office account, this will continue. If you do not have a bank account or post office account, you may able to arrange to collect benefit cheques from your local benefits agency or Jobcentre Plus. Contact your local JobCentrePlus office to sort this out.

Money in an emergency

If you need money in an emergency, you may be able to apply for a crisis grant from the social fund.

Work and training

People sleeping on the streets may find it harder to get a job or stay in work. However, the Jobcentre should still help you look for work. In fact, it may be a requirement of claiming benefit that you are actively seeking work, although if you are disabled or have mental health issues, this may not apply to you.

As well as calling into your local Jobcentre, the Jobcentre Plus website has details of job vacancies, or you can call Jobseeker Direct on 0845 6060 234. This service can keep you up to date with suitable job vacancies, help you apply and even contact the employer to arrange an interview for you.

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The important points

  • No one should be forced to sleep rough, contact your council for help.
  • If the council won't help then call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

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