Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Getting benefits and working if you're homeless

If you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, your entitlement to get benefits does not stop.

If you need money in an emergency check our advice on applying for a Crisis Grant from your local council.

You can work and look for work while homeless.

If you’re already claiming benefits

You can continue getting your benefits if you're homeless.

You should update your benefits provider with any changes, such as your address or who’s in your household.

If you get benefits paid into your bank account or post office account, this will continue.

Claiming benefits when you’re homeless

Use the Turn2Us benefits calculator to find out which benefits you could get. It will also tell you how much money you could expect to get.

You’ll need information on your or your household’s:

  • income and savings

  • outgoings, such as rent

  • existing benefits and pensions

If you do not have a bank account or post office account, you may be able to collect benefits from your local benefits agency or Jobcentre Plus.

You may be able to open a bank account without a permanent address. Check our advice on accessing services when you're homeless.

If you’re not a British or Irish citizen your right to benefits depends on your immigration status.

Benefits you could get 

Universal Credit

In most cases, if you’re out of work or on a low income you can apply for Universal Credit. 

Apply for Universal Credit on GOV.UK

Housing Benefit

If you’re in temporary accommodation, you can apply for Housing Benefit even if you currently receive Universal Credit. The housing element of Universal Credit will stop, but other elements will continue.

If you do not have an income, Housing Benefit will often cover the cost of your temporary accommodation.

Contact the council to apply for Housing Benefit. A homeless officer can help you make the application.

For more support with getting benefits, contact a benefits adviser at Citizens Advice Scotland.

Working while homeless

If you're working, you can continue to do so if you become homeless.

If you’re staying in temporary accommodation you'll be charged based on your income levels. Check our advice on paying for temporary accommodation.

If you need support finding work contact Fair Start Scotland.

Last updated: 27 March 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England