Housing support for families with no recourse to public funds
You could get help from the council if you have children and are homeless, or will be soon.
You can only get help from the council's homeless team if you meet immigration conditions.
You could get help from social services
Social services is part of your council.
They can sometimes help families with 'no recourse to public funds'.
What does 'no recourse to public funds' mean?
It means you cannot get most benefits, or housing and homeless help from the council.
This is usually because your visa or leave to remain says you cannot get this help. For example, skilled worker or student visas.
It could also be because you do not have permission to be in the UK.
Will social services help?
Social services should keep children safe and support families.
Usually they only help if no one else can. They expect you to ask friends, family members, charities or community groups first.
If you've already tried other options, social services could help with:
finding a private tenancy
money for rent, food, energy and travel costs
This is sometimes called 'section 17 support'.
Help in an emergency
Social services should give you some immediate help if you are on the streets or need money for food.
Can support affect your immigration status?
The council tells the Home Office if you ask them for help. Some councils have immigration officers in their teams.
This could cause you immigration problems. For example, if you have no leave to remain or have overstayed your visa.
Could your children be taken into care?
The council should help you stay together unless your children are at risk of serious harm.
Social services should not offer to take your children into care if their main concern is that you're homeless.
talk to you and your children about what you need
offer support to the whole family
You can say no if the council only offer somewhere to stay for your children.
Social services cannot take your children away without a court order.
Will you have to move to another area?
The council might offer you housing or help to pay for it in a different area.
It's best to accept this as social services might not offer anything else.
You may want to stay in your local area, but it can be hard to get the council to agree.
You might have a stronger case if:
you cannot get to work
you need care or support from someone in the area
your child is disabled or has special educational needs
your child needs contact with their other parent in the area
you or your child have to get medical treatment at a specific hospital
your child is doing important exams soon, for example, GCSEs or A levels
How to ask for social services support
You should ask for social services support from the council where you live.
If your children are at school in another area, you could speak to that council instead.
If you have moved around, you should ask for support from the council where you are now.
Get someone to help you
You could ask a friend or relative to speak to social services for you.
Ask for a translator if you need one.
Find the right team at the council
Choose the county council website if you get 2 results.
Get a social services phone number from the council website by searching for things like:
children and families
children's social care
If you cannot find the right team, search for 'housing' and speak to that team.
It can be frustrating. Keep trying until you find the right team.
If someone tells you go to another team or council, ask them to contact that team or council for you.
What to say to the council
Ask to speak to a duty social worker.
Say you need a 'child in need' assessment because you are a homeless family with no recourse to public funds.
What to expect next
The full assessment process takes up to 9 weeks.
We have more advice on:
what social services will ask you
documents you need to show
Last updated: 17 September 2023