EU citizens: Help from the council if you're homeless

Brexit update

From 1 January new rules affect who can get homelessness help from the council.

Who can get homeless help

The council checks you meet the conditions for help. This is sometimes called being 'eligible for assistance'.

This is a summary of the new rules for EU citizens from 1 January to 30 June 2021.

You can qualify automatically if you're an Irish citizen or have settled status

You may need to meet extra conditions if you were living in the UK by 31 December 2020 but don't yet have settled status

You're unlikely to qualify if you moved here after 31 December 2020 unless you're an Irish citizen or have settled status

The rules for EU citizens also apply to citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Irish citizens

You have the right to live in the UK without restrictions. The date you moved here won't usually matter.

You don't need to apply to the EU settlement scheme but you can choose to. Non-Irish family members may need to apply to keep their rights after 30 June 2021.

Find out more from Citizens Advice about staying in the UK after Brexit.

You qualify for homeless help as long as you're 'habitually resident'.

The council should accept your passport as proof of status.

Find out about habitual residence if you've recently returned from living abroad.

Settled status

You should have a Home Office email which confirms your status.

You should also be able to view and prove your immigration status on GOV.UK

You qualify for homeless help as long as you're 'habitually resident'.

As most EU citizens with settled status have lived in the UK for at least 5 years, you will usually meet this condition automatically.

The council should accept the Home Office email as confirmation of your status if they need to provide emergency housing while they look into your situation.

Pre-settled status

You should have a Home Office email which confirms your status.

You should also be able to view and prove your immigration status on GOV.UK

Proof of pre-settled status may not be enough to qualify for homeless help.

The council will ask if you meet extra conditions. For example, they might say you need to be:

  • working or self employed

  • unable to work because of ill health

  • pregnant or have recently given birth

  • looking for work after working in the UK

  • living with a child at school in the UK

The Court of Appeal has decided that these extra conditions are unlawful but the rules have not been changed yet.

The council will ask you to meet the extra conditions until the rules are changed.

If you can, provide information to show that you also fit into one of the situations below.

Working or self employed

You qualify for help if you have 'worker or self employed status' in the UK under EU law.

You should qualify if you earn at least £183 a week before tax but you could also qualify if you earn less than this or your income changes.

The council looks at the number of hours you work and how much you earn.

Can't work because of ill health

You usually qualify for help if you've worked in the UK but can't work at the moment because of illness or an accident.

This could include a longer term health condition or disability, but you may need to show that you're likely to be able to work again in the foreseeable future.

Pregnant or recently given birth

You qualify for help if you're on maternity leave from your job or self employment.

Looking for work

You could still qualify for help if you lose your job or become unemployed in the UK.

But you should register with Jobcentre Plus and start looking for work as soon as you can.

Children in school

You might qualify for help if a child who lives with you is at school in the UK.

Your child must have lived in the UK while you or their other parent was an EU worker. You don't need to be working now.

Contact a Shelter adviser if you have pre-settled status or you meet these conditions but the council won't help.

Family members of EU citizens

You may be able to apply to the EU settlement scheme if you're a family member of an EU citizen living in the UK by 31 December 2020. You don't have to be an EU citizen yourself and in some cases you can arrive after that date.

You should qualify for homeless help if you're granted settlement or can show you meet the qualifying conditions.

Contact a Shelter adviser if you're not sure if the council should help.

Not yet applied to the EU settlement scheme

You may still be able to get homelessness help. But only if you're likely to qualify for settled or pre-settled status.

For example, if you were already living in the UK on 31 December 2020 and can show that either:

  • you've lived here legally for at least 5 years

  • you meet the conditions for pre-settled status

You should provide the council with enough information to show that you're likely to qualify.

The EU settlement scheme closes for applications on 30 June 2021

After that date, you won't usually be able to get homeless help or claim benefits in the UK unless you're an Irish citizen or have settled or pre-settled status.

Apply to the scheme on GOV.UK to protect your rights in the UK after 30 June.

When to ask for help

You can ask the council for help if you're already homeless, or likely to become homeless in the next 8 weeks.

The council must provide emergency housing if they think you may be homeless, qualify for help and have a priority need. For example, if you have children with you or are vulnerable.

Find out about what happens if you qualify for help.

If you can't get help

The council must give you a letter which explains why they've decided you don't qualify.

You have 21 days to ask for a review if you think their decision is wrong.

Contact a Shelter adviser if the council won't give you a letter or you're not sure of your next steps.

Council sometimes get things wrong, or make decisions without enough information.

Get free legal advice and help with a review:

Search for a local Shelter service

Find other ways to get free legal advice

Need immigration advice?

Shelter can't provide immigration advice but there are other charities who could help.

Citizens Advice can help with immigration problems or refer you to a specialist adviser. You can also find immigration advice on their website.

Roma Support Group offer phone appointments for Roma families and individuals who need help applying for settlement.

The AIRE Centre's EU settlement scheme checker tool has an option to discuss your results with a caseworker.

Contact Settled if you have more questions about the EU settlement scheme.

Use GOV.UK to search for other advice services.


Last updated: 23 December 2020

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