Can I continue to claim housing benefit while on remand?
Yes. If you are in custody waiting for trial or sentence, or if you must stay away from home as a condition of your bail, you can continue to claim housing benefit if:
- Your home is unoccupied/you are not renting out your property
- You can demonstrate that you intend to return home (e.g. by continuing to pay your rent and by keeping your belongings in your home)
- You are unlikely to be away for more than 52 weeks (i.e. you will be remanded in custody for not more than 52 weeks)
If you would like to continue to claim your housing benefit, you must let your housing benefit office know that you are in prison. Your prison should complete a notification of remand in custody form. You need to make sure that they send this form to your housing benefit office within 14 days of you notifying your housing benefit office.
If you receive help towards your rent or mortgage costs as a Universal Credit claimant, you can continue to receive housing payments for up to six months. You should try to set up a direct debit to pay your landlord directly. However, if you receive a custodial sentence, you will not get Universal Credit if your total time in custody (including time on remand) is more than six months.
Can I make a new housing benefit claim while on remand?
If you were not claiming housing benefit before being held on remand, you may be entitled to make a claim when in prison. To find out if you are eligible, you should arrange an appointment with a benefits adviser within the prison.
You cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit if you are in prison. However, it is worth arranging an appointment with a benefits adviser all the same because if you were entitled to receive Universal Credit before going into prison, you may be entitled to receive back-dated payments.
Can my partner claim housing benefit while I am on remand?
If your partner is responsible for rent, they may be able to claim housing benefit while you are on remand. Even if your partner is not a tenant or joint tenant, the housing benefit office can pay housing benefit to them if they have been sharing your home and it is therefore reasonable to treat them as responsible for rent.
Getting help with my mortgage
While you are on remand, you can claim income support for up to 52 weeks. If you were getting job seekers allowance before you went into prison, you will have to claim income support instead. If you are claiming one of these benefits, you can apply for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) which can help with your mortgage interest payments. You can also check whether your partner is able to claim SMI to cover the mortgage, even if the mortgage is not in your partner’s name. It is important to make an SMI claim as soon as possible as it can take up to 13 weeks to process. Arrange a meeting with an adviser in the prison to get some help.
If you are worried about keeping up with your mortgage repayments, you could also consider renting out your home. You will need to check whether the terms and conditions of your mortgage (and lease, if applicable) allow you to do this.
It is important to note that payment of SMI will end if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
Where can I get housing advice in prison?
You can make an appointment to see a housing adviser in prison. They will try to see you as quickly as they can, but it may take some time. If you cannot wait, you can contact the following services for advice:
Nacro’s Criminal Record Support Service
0800 0181 259
0808 800 4444
Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am-5pm