Help if you’re homeless after leaving prison

With your permission, the prison or probation service must refer you to a council's homeless team if you're:

  • already homeless

  • likely to be homeless in the next 8 weeks

  • staying in probation or bail accommodation with no suitable move-on option

You can also make a homeless application yourself before or after you leave prison.

You're legally threatened with homelessness if your release date is in the next 8 weeks and you do not have anywhere suitable to stay on release.

Help before you leave prison

Most prisons have a housing advice and resettlement service often provided by charities.

The service can help with things like:

  • advice on keeping your tenancy while you're in prison

  • referrals to the council or hostels if you'll be homeless on release

  • a £76 prison discharge grant

Ask to speak to a housing adviser or resettlement worker in the prison around 8 weeks before your release date if you're worried you will have nowhere to stay.

If you qualify for release on bail or a tag

You need somewhere to stay at before you can be released on bail or an electronic tag.

Court or prison staff may refer you to the Bail Accommodation Support Scheme (BASS) run by the charity NACRO if you have nowhere suitable to live.

Which council should help

You can ask any council for help but you might be referred to a different council unless you have a local connection. Being in prison in an area does not count as a local connection.

The council must assess your housing needs and give you a personal housing plan.

Emergency housing 

The council must provide emergency housing if they think you may:

You are always in priority need if you're at risk of domestic abuse, a care leaver under 21, pregnant or have dependent children with you.

You can also have a priority need if you're classed as 'vulnerable'. This means you're at much greater risk of harm than most people if you have nowhere to live.

This could be because of a physical or mental health condition, time spent in prison, or any other special reasons.

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

How the probation service can help

Probation teams can give you housing advice and may be able to refer you to a specialist hostel, supported housing or private landlords.

If you're released on licence, the conditions of your licence might mean you cannot live in certain areas or that you have to stay in 'approved premises'.

Finding a private tenancy

Read our advice on finding a landlord if you get benefits.

Help with rent

You probably need to claim universal credit on release unless you return to live with or move in with a partner who's already claiming benefits.

Universal credit has a housing element to help with rent once you've found somewhere to live and moved in.

You can also apply for discretionary housing payments if universal credit won't cover your rent.

Still need help?

NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) 

0300 123 1999  (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday)

Women in Prison

0800 953 0125 (Women only)


Last updated: 24 November 2021

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