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Helping Christians Respond To Social Needs

Bristol Homeless Forum
Road Map - Related



This is part of the BCAN Road Map of services for homeless people. The main pages are:

Access: how can I find help? Timetable: when is it provided?
Services: what is provided? Organisations: who provides it?
Context: structures and policies Words: names and abbreviations
Related: relevant services Links: other web sites


1.   Benefits
  1a.     Jobseeker's Allowance
  1b.     Employment and Support Allowance
  1c.     Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
  1d.     Disability Living Allowance
  1e.     Other
2.   Domestic Abuse
3.   Language
4.   Prison
  4a.     Support
  4b.     Visiting
  4c.     Prisoner Categories
  4d.     Prison Reform

1.   Benefits

The main benefits people should be aware of are:

  • JSA (Job Seeker's Allowance)
  • ESA (Employment and Support Allowance - replaces Incapacity Benefit)
  • Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
  • DLA (Disability Living Allowance)

The basic questions: how do you qualify, and how do you access them?

1a.   Jobseeker's Allowance

  • JSA is the main benefit for people of working age who are out of work.
  • You may be able to get JSA if you are:
    • out of work or working less than 16 hours a week on average, and
    • capable of working, and
    • available for work, and
    • actively seeking work, and
    • below state pension age.
  • More information is available from JobCentrePlus.

1b.   Employment and Support Allowance

  • ESA replaced both incapacity benefit (IB) and income support (IS) paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008.
  • You may be able to get ESA if you:
    • have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work, and
    • are over 16 and under State Pension age, and
    • are unemployed, or self employed, or work for an employer but you cannot get Statutory Sick Pay, or have been getting Statutory Sick Pay but it has now stopped.
  • From 13 July 2009 the telephone number for urgent ESA queries is 0117 991 1353.
  • More information is available from JobCentrePlus or Disability Alliance.

1c.   Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

  • If you are on a low income and need help to pay your rent or Council Tax, then Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit could help you.
  • Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit can help towards your rent and Council Tax.
  • Your local authority pays them.
  • You do not have to be receiving any other benefits to qualify for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.
  • Housing Benefit does not cover all your housing costs. The maximum Housing Benefit you can get depends on your eligible rent. This may not be the same as your full rent.
  • More information is available from JobCentrePlus.

1d.   Disability Living Allowance

  • If you have severe difficulty walking, need help getting around or need looking after, you may be able to claim DLA.
  • DLA is a set rate of benefit and is not usually affected by savings or by other money you have coming in.
  • You may not get DLA if you are in hospital or a care home.
  • More information is available from JobCentrePlus.

1e.   Other

Social Fund - this provides grants and interest free loans to help people on low income with costs that are difficult to meet from regular income. Training is available from IRS, but be aware that the Basic Overview is 89 pages long.

For more information, see IRS - the Independent Review Service for the Social Fund.

2.   Domestic Abuse

BDAF - The Bristol Domestic Abuse Forum - is a multi-agency forum made up of representatives from both voluntary and statutory organisations as well as members of the community who come together to promote a coordinated approach to tackling domestic abuse in Bristol.

3.   Language

If someone needs to be translated, the best route is usually to follow up any personal contacts you have.

Refugee Action may be able to provide some help with translation for asylum seekers and refugees.

4.   Prison

4a.   Support

PACT - Prison Advice and Care Trust. They support prisoners and their families, help them to make a fresh start, and seek to minimise the harm that can be caused by imprisonment on offenders, families and communities.

Lazarus House is for men leaving prison who want help to get their lives sorted out.

What help is available to people in prison?

What statutory help is available to people leaving prison - what do they get, and how long do they have to be in to qualify for it?

What other help is available to people leaving prison?

4b.   Visiting

We need to say something about visiting prisoners - both those convicted and those on remand. Visitors need to know that visits can be cancelled at little or no notice.

Also we should say about what you can take into prison, and what can be provided in parcels.

4c.   Prisoner Categories

In the UK, there are four categories of prisoner, which are linked to the individual's risk of escape.

  • Category A: those who have the support and the means (possibly on the outside) for escape, or present a threat to the public. Category A prisoners are held in 'high security' prisons.
  • Category B: those who are a high escape risk but do not have the means.
  • Category C: those who are not a high escape risk or security risk, but may be opportunists.
  • Category D: those who represent no risk of escaping or of being a threat to the public.

Prisoners do not always keep the same category rating throughout their sentence. The most common change is to downgrade the prisoner to a lower category during their time in prison, but this is never automatic.

4d.   Prison Reform

There are some notes about Prison Reform on another page.


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This page last updated: 28 July 2009
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