Advice for vulnerable groups

Homeless on release from prison

You can apply to us for help if you’re homeless now or due to leave prison in the next 8 weeks and don’t have anywhere to stay on release. As a Public Authority the prison have a Duty to Refer any prisoner they believe will be homeless on discharge to us for assistance with housing. You can make a homeless application directly if the prison haven’t made a referral.

As part of our duties under the Homeless reduction act 2017 we should:

  • carry out an assessment of your housing needs
  • give you a personal housing plan that sets out the steps you and the council must take to find suitable accommodation

We should work with the probation service, community rehabilitation company or youth offending team to decide what support you might need to find and keep somewhere to live.

You can apply to any council for help but it’s usually best to apply to an area where you have a local connection. Being in prison in an area doesn't count as a local connection.

If you apply to an area where you don't have a connection, you can be referred to an area where you do. You can't be referred to another area if:

  • an injunction means you can't go there
  • you're at risk of violence there

You won't qualify for any housing or support from us if you don't meet immigration or residence conditions.

Emergency temporary housing

You should qualify for emergency housing on release from prison if we have reason to believe you are homeless and in Priority Need.

You have an automatic priority need for housing if you:

  • have children who live with you
  • are pregnant or a partner you live with is pregnant
  • are aged 18-20 and spent time in care when you were 16 or 17

You also have a priority need for housing if you're classed as 'vulnerable'. This means it's harder for you to cope with being homeless than other people in the same situation.

You may be classed as vulnerable due to your time spent in prison. We must consider:

  • any support you get from friends or family
  • your physical and mental health and how it affects you
  • how long you spent in prison and when you were released
  • if you've been able to find or keep accommodation since release

We should speak to agencies involved in your support and supervision. For example, probation, youth offending team or drug and alcohol services.

What area you can be housed in if you are homeless on release from prison?

When you apply to us as homeless, the Housing Options Team will check to see if you have a local connection with its area.

You can establish a local connection, for example, by living, working, or having immediate family (usually a parent or brother or sister) in the area.

Time spent in prison in a specific area does not give you a local connection with the area where the prison is located. However, if you have no local connection with any area or if you are fleeing
domestic violence, you can apply to any council in any area. The council you apply to has to help you.

There may be restrictions placed on where you can live. For example a civil injunction says you can't go to a particular area, you may need to seek help from a different council.

High risk prisoners managed by a multi-agency public protection arrangement (MAPPA) may be required to live in certain areas.

Help before you leave prison

Most prisons have a housing advice and resettlement service called Through the Gate.  A resettlement worker in prison can help you with things like:

  • referrals to suitable accommodation if you'll be homeless on release
  • dealing with a housing benefit claim while you're in prison
  • claiming universal credit on release
  • rent arrears or eviction

You can apply for the following grants before release:

  • a £76 discharge grant
  • up to £50 for your first night's accommodation (paid direct to the housing provider)

Help with housing costs

If you need a suitable address to stay at before you can be released on bail or home detention curfew (an electronic tag).

If you cannot live at your usual address, court or prison staff may refer you to the Bail Accommodation Support Scheme (BASS).

Contact Nacro's Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 for further advice.

Help from the probation service

Your resettlement worker in prison should work on a resettlement plan with your Probation Officer if you have one on release. If you're released on licence, the conditions of your licence might mean you can't live in certain areas. Probation teams can give you housing advice and may be able to refer you to a specialist hostel, supported housing or private landlords.

Help with housing costs

You will need to claim universal credit and the housing payment element unless you live or move in with a partner who's already claiming.

You may also be able to get help through a Discretionary Housing Payment from us.

Useful Links

Shelter support for ex-prisoners

Nacro

Prison Advice and Care Trust offer support to prisoners, people with convictions and their families to make a fresh start