This guide gives you basic information about our homeless policy, and what happens if we are able to give you help.
About your homelessness application
Are you eligible for help?
We have a duty to make sure you have somewhere to live if you are homeless, you are eligible, you have a priority need and you are not intentionally homeless. We will consider you to be eligible as homeless if:
- You have nowhere to live.
- You have been living somewhere, but have no legal right to stay there and have been told to leave.
- You have somewhere to live, but cannot get into it.
- You have somewhere to live but another resident there has been, or is likely to be, violent towards you.
- Your home is a caravan or houseboat and you have nowhere to legally park it or moor it.
- You have somewhere to live but you cannot house the people who normally live with you.
- You have been made homeless as a result of an emergency, such as fire, flood or some other disaster.
- Some people are not eligible for our help because they do not usually live in the UK or are subject to some form of immigration control.
- You are usually eligible if you satisfy the immigration laws.
(This is a very complicated area and if you need further advice, please ask the Case Worker who is dealing with your homeless application).
Out of hours and homeless
If you find yourself Homeless Outside of Normal Working Hours
If you find yourself homeless, outside of normal Office Hours: i.e. Before 9am or after 5pm Monday to Friday, Weekends, Bank Holidays:
Please call 01543 462621, our Out of Hours call out team will deal with your enquiry, or pass your call to an Officer that may be able to assist you
You may be a priority homeless person or household if you are eligible and:
- You have dependent children living with you who are under 16, or under 19 if they are in full time education.
- You, or any member of your household is pregnant.
- You have been made homeless as a result of fire, flood or some other disaster.
- You are 'vulnerable' because of: old age, mental or physical illness, disability, because of fleeing violence, because you have been in the armed forces, serving a long term prison sentence or have a background of being 'in care', or other special reasons.
- You are 16 or 17 years old.
We have to find out if you have a local connection with Cannock, which could be if:
- You have lived in the district for six out of the last 12 months.
- You have lived in the district for three out of the last five years.
- You have permanent employment in the district
- You have a close relative who has lived in the district for the last five years, for example, mother, father, sister, brother, adult son or daughter. Grand parents, aunts and uncles do not qualify unless you have been bought up by them.
If you do not have a local connection with Cannock, we will work with other local authorities in England, Scotland or Wales to decide if you have a local connection with them. We have to make sure that the other council has agreed to help you before sending you there.
Whilst arrangements are being made, if you are in the priority need group we must offer you a temporary home if needed.
If you have no connection with any area, we may still have a duty to find a home for you, or help you find your own home.
We may consider you to be intentionally homeless if you have nowhere to live because of something you have deliberately done or not done. As this is a complicated area, each application is treated on an individual basis. The Case Worker who is dealing with your application will be able to tell you if this applies to your situation.
Where can you get help?If you have nowhere to live or know that you are about to become homeless in the next 28 days, you should contact the council's Housing Reception at Cannock Area Housing Office. Call 01543 462621 and ask for homeless and lettings team.
Outside office hoursWe run an out-of-hours service, so if you become homeless outside office hours and you think you are in priority need, call us on 01543 462621 and follow the message prompts.
IMPORTANTThe out of hours service should only be used in the case of a real emergency that cannot wait until the office re-opens.
AppointmentsYou do not need to make an appointment in an emergency as we can usually give you an appointment that day. However, it is better to ring first so we can make sure a Case Worker can see you.
Visits outside the officeIf you cannot come to the Housing Reception because you are unwell, in hospital or have mobility problems, we can come to where you are staying or another location such as a hospital or community centre.
What happens next?You will be interviewed by your Case Worker who will ask you some questions to find out about your situation. This is so we can decide what help we may be able to offer you and to make sure people do not abuse the service by making false claims. You may also be asked to supply your case worker with documents to support your homeless claim.
IMPORTANTAll interviews take place in private and any information you give your Case Worker is treated as confidential. They will not pass on ANY information to anyone without your permission.
Documents to support your claim
Your Case Worker will tell you which documents you need to show us as this depends on your case. The following list is for guidance only:
Proof of homelessness - for example:
- A written Notice from your landlord
- A letter from a friend or relative asking you to leave
- A Court Order or Bailiff's Warrant
- Birth Certificate or
- Passport (which must be up to date).
- Your National Insurance Number
Other supporting documents:
- If you have dependant children we will also need copy of Child Benefit Award Letter and:
- Pages 1-6 of Child Tax Credits Award Letter
N.B. The documents must be the originals of which we will photocopy
If you are asked to bring in documents, it is important that you do so as soon as possible or this could lead to a delay in making a decision on your case or your case will possibly be closed.
How we make our decision
PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE A CURRENT APPLICATION REGISTERED ON THE U-CHOOSE SYSTEM.
Your Case Worker will look at your statements (on your application form or as case notes), the documents you have given us, and information they have gained as a result of their own enquiries. They will then make a decision based on this information. The decision will be sent to you in writing, or you can request to call in to the council reception to collect it.
What happens if your application is approved?If we have a duty to help you under the law, one of the following can happen:
- We will help you find your own home in the either in the Social or Private Sector
N.B. The rules mean local housing authorities can end their duty to homeless people by offering accommodation in the private sector without an individual's agreement. Previously, a council would still have to house someone if they refused the private rented sector accommodation offered to them
- We will house in temporary accommodation if it is required.
- We will refer your case to another council for help
- Your Case Worker will give you details about the type of help you will be offered. We can help you find a home in the private sector, possibly help with rent advance and deposit and if you are on low income, you may get help with the rent.
Temporary and Permanent AccommodationTemporary accommodation has many forms, from Hostels to Bed and Breakfast. Please note that if placed in Bed and Breakfast there will be a charge. The average cost of Bed and Breakfast is approximately £40/ 60per night dependant of size of family
For more information about these types of housing, please speak to out Temporary Accommodation Officer. Housing benfit claims are capped at a maximum of £400 per week, there is always a charge as benefits do not cover the heating and lighting element of a stay in B&B.
What happens if you refuse the help offered?If you refuse the offer of a temporary home we may no longer have a duty to help you. If you are thinking of refusing an offer, please discuss the situation with your Case Worker urgently.
Appeals and Complaints
If you are unhappy with our final decision, you can appeal against it, in writing, within 21 days of the original decision. A senior officer who has had no involvement with your original application will look into your case and if they feel it is appropriate, they may ask your Case Worker to look into the case a second time. If you give us new information as part of your appeal, we may not take this to be an appeal and your Case Officer may use the new information to make a fresh decision.
This appeal decision can take up to 56 working days.
If you have a complaint about any part of the Housing Options Service, you should first contact your Case Worker. If you are not happy with their response and would like to make a formal complaint, use our complaints procedure as set out in the leaflet called 'How to Complain' available at all council offices.
Housing Options Team, PO Box 28, Beecroft Road, Cannock, WS11 1BG
What does being eligible for assistance mean?
Some groups of people who have lived abroad are not entitled to help from the council if they are homeless. If the council decides that your household is not eligible for assistance, it has no further duty to help you regardless of the rest of your circumstances. If the council has already provided you with emergency accommodation it can ask you to leave.
The council has to look at the eligibility of all the people who are included in a homelessness application. It is possible that some members of a homeless household are eligible for assistance while others are not .
It's important to remember that being eligible for assistance doesn't necessarily mean you will be entitled to accommodation from the council. The council will also have to consider your other circumstances, including:
- whether you are legally classed as homeless
- whether you are in priority need
- whether you made yourself homeless intentionally
- whether you have a local connection.
Each of these terms has a special legal meaning.
How does the council decide who is eligible?
Most people are eligible for assistance. If you live in the UK, are a British citizen and have not recently spent time living in other countries you will be eligible for assistance.
There are two main groups of people who may not be eligible for assistance:
- People who are not British citizens and/or don't have full rights to live here because of their immigration status (people from abroad).
- People who may have rights to live here but have spent time living somewhere else and aren't considered to be 'habitually resident.'
People from abroad
If you require permission to enter or remain in the UK you may be classed as a person from abroad who is not eligible for assistance. People who are not British citizens or who are not from a European Union or European Economic Area country are not normally eligible for assistance. However, there are exceptions to this. You will probably be eligible if, for example:
- you are a refugee who has been granted asylum
- you have been granted exceptional leave to remain in the UK
- you are an evacuee from Lebanon who has applied for leave to remain.
If you have recently returned to the UK after living abroad, even if you are a British citizen, the council must check whether you meet the habitual residence test. If you are not habitually resident in the UK you will not be eligible for assistance. The habitual residence test is a complicated investigation that looks into where your normal place of living should be considered to be.
The council will check:
- where you live
- where you work
- where you have family or other social connections
- the reasons why you have come to live in an area
- what your intentions for the future are.
If the council tells you that it does not consider you to be habitually resident in the UK, get advice as it can be difficult to challenge their decision. If you fail a habitual residence test this will affect your entitlement to benefits such as income support, jobseekers allowance and housing benefit.
In many cases, people may become habitually resident in the UK after having lived here for a few months. If you make a new homelessness application at this point, the council may decide that you are eligible for assistance.
If you are working in the UK and you are from a European Union(EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country you may be eligible for assistance. Most EU/EEA workers have the right to free movement between member countries and the general rules on accessing housing and benefits are the same for all EEA/EU nationals. However, there are normally restrictions on the help you can get if you are:
- from an A2 nation (Bulgarian and Romanian), or
- from an A8 nation (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia).
People from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) may be able to get help from the council if they become homeless. However, your rights will depend on when your home country joined the EU/EEA.
Your rights to work, claim benefits and apply for social housing will also depend on which EU/EEA country you came to the UK from. This section contains information on some jargon you might need in order to work out what you're entitled to, and also where you can find more information on housing rights for new arrivals.
Only some people from the EU/EEA are eligible to apply for social housing, get help if they become homeless and/or claim social security benefits
What are my rights when I first arrive?
All EEA/EU nationals have an automatic right to live in the UK for three months after their arrival. If you are not working during these three months, you will not be eligible to:
- apply to go on the council's waiting list for social housing
- get help from the council if you become homeless
- claim social security benefits.
If you are working during the first three months, then the rules for workers apply (see below). People from most EU/EEA countries will be eligible, but there are restrictions if you are from an A8 or A2 country.
What about my family?
Close family members who live with you have the same rights as you do. The following relations should be accepted as family members:
- a husband, wife or registered civil partner
- children (your own or your spouse/partner's) who are under 21 years old
- children (your own or your spouse/partner's) who are over 21 years old and still dependent on you
- other dependent relatives (which could include a long-term partner you are not married to, parents or grandparents - but only if they are dependent on you).
Former partners will retain these rights if they are responsible for children who are under 18 and remain in education.
You might be asked to prove that a relationship is real. If you are making a homelessness application or claiming housing benefit you should take along any documents that prove your relationship. This might include passports, birth, adoption or marriage certificates.
Accession State Nationals
This section is for new arrivals.
What are my basic rights as an Assession State National from 1st May 2011? - You have the same rights as other EEA citizens from this date.
Am I eligible to apply for housing and/or benefits? - As an A8 citizen, you have many of the same rights as other EEA/EU citizens.
What documents might you be asked to supply when requesting housing and benefits? - Your passport or ID Card from the relevant country is proof of nationality. If you were required to register on the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS), you will be asked to show a WRS Card and a certificate covering your current employment. If you have applied but not yet got your cardor certificate, you can show a copy of the application. From 1st May 2011 you just need evidence of employment if working.
What are my rights to housing and benefits? - You can apply for housing direct from a Housing Association, but you may be refused if you do not have the money to pay the rent and do not have the right to housing benefit.
If you have have worked in the UK at any time, you may have the right to an allocation of housing from the council, to get help if you are homeless and to claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent follow this useful link
Where can I get more information and help?
Shelter cannot house you but you can call their free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 or request email advice. Advisers can provide interpreting services if you need them, and/or minicom for deaf callers. We may be able to help you find a solicitor in your area if you need one.
Advice Now (an advice website) have produced leaflets explaining the rights of workers from A8 nations. Homeless Link (a homelessness agency) provides a range of resources for advisers working with A8 nationals
Rights of A2 Nationals
Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007 and are often called the 'A2 nations'. People from these countries have many of the same rights as other EEA/EU nationals but with some restrictions.
What are my basic rights?
A2 nationals have many of the same basic rights as other EEA/EU nationals - for example, the right to 'free movement' within the EU/EEA. As a worker, you are entitled to the minimum wage, holidays and to work in safe conditions.
Am I eligible to apply for housing and/or benefits?
As an A2 citizen, your rights are similar to those of other EEA/EU citizens if you are studying, supporting yourself financially or are self-employed. If you are registered as a 'worker', or are looking for work, there are restrictions on your rights to apply for housing and benefits.
If you are a student and are 'habitually resident' (ie. normally live here) you may:
- have the right to right to apply for social housing
- be entitled to help if you become homeless and/or
- be able to claim benefits in some circumstances.
If you are supporting yourself financially:
- you are unlikely to be eligible for help if you become homeless (except in exceptional emergencies) but
- you can apply for social housing if you are habitually resident.
If you are self-employed:
- you can apply for social housing
- you can apply for help if you become homeless
- you can apply for welfare benefits.
If you are self-employed and temporarily unable to work because of sickness or an accident, you continue to have these rights. If you are an employed and authorised 'worker' you are eligible to apply for social housing and help if you become homeless even if you've been in the UK for less than one year. This also applies to your family members.
If you are looking for work:
- you are not entitled to any benefits, homelessness assistance or access to social housing until you start work you cannot start work or
- until you get authorisation from the Home Office (see below). This is only granted to certain types of worker.
What if I am self-employed?
If you are self-employed, you do not have to register with the Worker Authorisation Scheme but you should register with HM Revenue and Customs so you can pay tax and National Insurance if you earn enough. If you are self-employed you will be eligible to apply for homelessness assistance, social housing and some benefits.
What if I lose my job or stop working?
If you lose your job or stop working within 12 months of starting work in the UK, you will stop being eligible for housing or homelessness assistance. Even if the reason you have lost the job is not your fault, or because you are ill, you will still be ineligible.
Am I entitled to any benefits?
If you are working and authorised to work within the first 12 months, or if you have gained full rights after 12 months working, you are entitled to child benefit and in-work benefits such as tax credits. If you are on a low income, you may also be entitled to housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Where can I get more information and help?
Shelter cannot house you but you can call their free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 or request email advice. Our advisers can provide interpreting services if you need them, and/or minicom for deaf callers.
Last Updated: 27/07/2015