People released from prison
This information is to assist people being released from prison and their families who may be threatened with homelessness.
Housing options whilst on bail
If you are granted bail you will be required to provide an address (which can include family and friends) but if you do not have suitable accommodation alternative options are available including the Bail Accommodation and Support Service (BASS) provided by Stonham.
For further information about BASS, including contact information and opening hours, visit the BASS website.
Keeping your home whilst on bail, remand or in prison
- You can only get Housing Benefit to pay your rent if you are on bail and living away from your home for up to 52 weeks.
- If you are on remand waiting for your trial or sentence you can get Housing Benefit for up to 52 weeks.
- If you are sentenced and are in prison you can only get Housing Benefit for up to 13 weeks if you expect to return home within 13 weeks of the date you first went into custody, including time you were on remand. The time you spend at home on temporary release is treated as time in prison.
For more information on housing benefit including contact information and opening hours visit the Housing Benefit pages on this website.
Universal Credit (UC)
If you were getting Universal Credit to help pay your rent or a mortgage before you were on bail, remand or in prison, you can continue to get UC housing costs payments for up to six months. You will not get UC housing costs if you expect to be in prison (including time on remand) for more than six months. You should try to set up a direct debit to pay your UC direct to your landlord. You cannot make a new claim for UC if you are in prison.
For more information on Universal Credit visit the Universal Credit page on this website.
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
If you own your own home and in receipt of SMI you can continue to get it for up to 52 weeks while you are on bail. Payments of SMI will end if you are sentenced. If you cannot get SMI you may be able to negotiate with your lender for a period of reduced payments. From April 2018 SMI will change from a benefit to a loan.
For more information on SMI including how to claim visit the Support for Mortgage Interest page on the Gov.UK website.
Getting someone else to pay your rent or mortgage
If you are serving a prison sentence, your partner (married or not) can claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to pay the rent on your home. Another relative or friend might be able to receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if they look after your home in your absence. They must be living in the property. They can apply even if the tenancy is in your name only. You should tell your landlord that they will pay the rent on your behalf.
Help with finding accommodation on prison release
Through the Gate
Every adult prisoner has access to ‘Through the Gate’ resettlement services which will start while you are still in custody and continue in the community. The support offered might include help finding accommodation and re-engaging with family and friends, financial advice, drug and alcohol education, anger management classes, training opportunities and mentoring.
If you are released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, as long as you have spent a continuous period of at least twelve months in custody. You are allocated a probation officer in the area where you will be living after release. Your probation officer manages your supervision in the community and can give you housing advice and may be able to refer you to a specialist hostel, supported housing or private landlords.
For more information on the Probation Services visit the National Probation Service website.
NACRO’s Resettlement Advice Service can advise you on your housing options after leaving prison. For more information on NACRO visit the NACRO website.
Shelter offer a free housing advice helpline open every day of the year. For more information about Shelter visit the Shelter website.
Upstream is an advice service in Cheshire and Warrington for single people who may be at risk of rough sleeping and which targets people leaving prison, hospital or supported housing. To speak to an Upstream worker for advice contact Forum Housing.
If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days, you can make an application for assistance to the council under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
The council has a duty to assess your case and agree a personalised plan with you and provide assistance to try and prevent your homelessness. If you are homeless the council will help you find alternative accommodation or may offer you temporary accommodation if you have an apparent priority need. You may be in priority need because you have been in prison or for other reasons such as mental health issues or a physical disability.
Housing Options can also help you access other services such as hostels, day centres or supported housing. For further information or to apply for assistance contact the Housing Options team.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: on 0300 123 2442
Other advice and support
Youth Justice Service (incorporating Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington) provide youth justice services to Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington for young people aged 10 to 17. The service is made up of representatives from the Police, Probation Service, Children’s Social Care, Health, Education and Substance Misuse.
If you are a prisoner, on remand or on release, there may be benefits, grants or other financial support available to you and your family.
Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.
Turning Point are a social enterprise, providing specialist and integrated services which focus on improving lives and communities across mental health, learning disability, substance misuse, primary care, the criminal justice system and employment.
Women in Prison are a national charity supporting women affected by the criminal justice system and campaign to radically reduce the women's prison population.
Cheshire West and Chester Council's HELP scheme can assist people in need with items such as food vouchers or recycled goods.
If you would like further information about financial help that is available, please visit the HELP Scheme pages on this website.
Our accommodation finder self help pack can be used by anyone trying to find accommodation in the Cheshire West and Chester area. You can increase your chances of finding something suitable by considering the full range of housing options available to you as well as knowing what you can afford.