Claiming benefits, working, and your rights while homeless
People who are homeless are entitled to claim benefits, work, receive healthcare and vote.
Get homeless help from the council
If you have nowhere safe to stay, make a homeless application to the council. You should be given accommodation on the day you need it.
They must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.
If you are homeless you are still entitled to claim benefits.
In most cases, if you are out of work or on a low income you can apply for universal credit.
Money in an emergency
If you need money in an emergency, you may be able to apply for a crisis grant from your local council.
Check if you're entitled to benefits
Turn to Us has an online benefit calculator. You can use this to check if you are entitled to any extra money. It can be useful to have information with you about any money you have coming into your household already and what your monthly rent payments are before you use this tool.
If you’re already claiming benefits
If you are already getting benefits when you become homeless, you can continue to do so.
Update your benefits provider with any changes of circumstance, like a new address or change of the number of people in your household.
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 be able to arrange to collect benefit cheques from your local benefits agency or Jobcentre Plus.
Working while homeless
Jobcentre Plus can help you look for work. It may be a requirement of claiming benefits that you are actively seeking work. If you are disabled or have mental health issues, this may not apply to you.
Find your nearest Jobcentre Plus
Get help finding a job with Fair Start Scotland
Fair Start Scotland helps people living in Scotland find work. The service offers an individual development plan to get you to where you want to be. Taking part will not affect your benefits.
Your key worker can help you:
recognise your skills and create a CV
prepare for interviews
find opportunities to help you gain skills and experience
find jobs that meet your needs
Registering with a doctor
You can still access healthcare if you’re homeless. You can use a care-of address, such as a friend's place or a day centre. Find a doctor in your area by:
using the Yellow Pages online directory
calling NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24
visiting the NHS Scotland website
calling the NHS Scotland helpline on 0800 22 44 88
You can ask to be seen as a temporary resident if you're staying somewhere longer than 24 hours but less than three months.
Accessing legal advice
Legal advice could help you resolve a range of problems, including family law, immigration and housing issues.
There may be law centres offering free advice in your area.
If you are going to court and need a solicitor, you may want to check that they take on cases funded by legal aid. Legal aid is the help you can sometimes get when you cannot afford to pay your own legal costs.
Find out if you’re likely to qualify for legal aid
Find a solicitor
You can vote if you’re homeless, provided you are over 18 and a UK citizen. Instead of registering at a permanent address, you can register at a temporary address.
You can also make a declaration of local connection. This is a statement that you make to the local electoral office to say where you spend the majority of your time.
Register to vote
Last updated: 9 June 2021