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Cost of living support

Financial advice and emotional support on how you can ease the cost of living squeeze.

Help with your housing needs

If you are worried about having nowhere suitable to live, find out more about the housing support available for you depending on your personal situation.

Our Housing Options Team want to help, please contact them. We may be responsible for helping you if we think that you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

We will ask questions about your situation so that we can provide the best housing options advice.

We may also be contacted by other organisations if they think that you are at risk of becoming homeless. This is called the duty to refer.

Depending on your circumstances, you can also find information on:


Rough sleepers and emergency arrangements

We work in partnership with Essex County Council and Chess to help people sleeping rough by providing support via a Rough Sleeper Outreach Team.

Chess provides: interventions to prevent rough sleeping, work with rough sleepers to help them off the streets, rapid assessment of client needs, help to move rough sleepers into private rented accommodation, support to prevent people from re-entering the system.

If you are a rough sleeper or you have concerns about a rough sleeper, you can contact Chess through the StreetLink website.

Giving money to an individual may be a natural response when faced with someone who appears to be homeless. However, it will not address the fundamental reason why that person is in that position. If you want to help those who are homeless you can contact charity groups working to make a real change.

Essex County Council's Adult Mental Health Wellbeing Team (AMHWT) provide a dedicated support service for people who are faced with homelessness and who also have mental health problems.             

Find out if you're eligible for support on the mental health page on

Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP)

We put SWEP arrangements in place when the weather has been forecast for adverse conditions, including excessive cold, heat or storms.

When SWEP is in place, our Housing Options Team look to make sure that no one has to sleep out on the streets during the period of severe weather.

Homeless emergencies

You can contact our homelessness duty office through our main phone number if:

  • you become homeless outside of office hours and
  • are unable to make your own short-term arrangements until the next working day


Leaving hospital

Hospital discharge

If you think you will not have suitable accommodation to return to when you are discharged from hospital you should tell the hospital nursing staff as soon as possible, so that they know that you will be homeless when you are discharged. This will need to be considered as part of your discharge planning. If you may be homeless within 56 days, you should contact our Housing Options Team at the earliest opportunity.

The discharge team may refer you to our housing options service. Someone will need to assess your situation and you may be offered temporary accommodation while your application is considered and enquiries are carried out.

The hospital can refer you to our Housing Options Team with your permission before you have to leave.

Duty to refer

If you work in healthcare and come across someone at risk of homelessness, you have a duty to refer them.

When you leave hospital

When you leave hospital you will be given a discharge summary, and a copy will be sent to your GP. This will provide information about your treatment and future care needs.

The NHS has more information about what happens when you leave hospital (discharge).

An Occupational Therapist may visit your home to see if there are any adaptations to help you stay in your home.

Sheltered or independent living housing

Sheltered or independent living housing provides support to residents to help them live independently for longer.

You can access sheltered housing in Uttlesford through HomeChoice.

Visit the Independent Living in Essex website for more information on accommodation with at least 6 hours of care.

Further help

These are organisations that you can contact for further help:


Leaving prison

Our Housing Options Team work closely with Prisons and Probation under a Prison Release Protocol.

If you apply to us for housing assistance, we might not necessarily have to provide you with accommodation. Our duty to you might be limited to providing you with advice and assistance. We will need to carry out enquiries to find out what, if any, duty is owed to you.

You have a priority need for homeless help if you're vulnerable and you've been in prison.

The prison can refer you for homeless help 8 weeks before your release, with your permission. This will give our Housing Options Team more time to look into your situation.

If you ask for help after release, we will look at:

  • how long you spent in prison and when you were released
  • if you have found and kept a home since release from prison

Help from probation services

Offenders serving sentences of 12 months or longer are released on licence and live in the community supervised by the probation service until the end of their sentence.

If you're released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, if you've spent a continuous period of at least 12 months in custody.

Homelessness help when on bail or home detention curfew

If you're a low-risk adult prisoner and eligible for release on bail or home detention curfew, but do not have suitable accommodation to go to, you may be able to get help with supported accommodation. Our housing options officer will be able to tell you more.

Find more information on help with housing when you leave prison on Shelter's website.

Victims of domestic abuse

If you are in immediate danger then leave right away and call the Police on 999.

If possible, take some essentials with you such as a change of clothes, toiletries and any medication you need to take regularly. Try to bring important items such as your passport, bank and credit cards and mobile phone.

If you are not safe in your home you should contact our Housing Options Team immediately.

You are always in priority need for homeless help if you're at risk of domestic abuse.

Get expert support

Information and independent support is provided locally by Next Chapter. You can call them on 01206 500585 between 9am to 5pm. They Offer a range of services to support and guide people through abusive relationships.

Essex Domestic Abuse Helpline is available 8am to 8pm weekdays and 8am to 1pm weekends. You can call them on 0330 333 7 444

Anybody can visit the Safer Places website or call them on their 24 hour phone line on 03301 025811

Women can visit the National Domestic Abuse Helpline website or call them on 0808 2000 247

Men can visit the Respect Men's Advice Line website or call them on 0808 801 0327

LGBT people can visit the Stonewall Housing website or call them on 0207 359 5767

Children and young people can visit the Hide Out website.

Staying at home and making it safe

The Housing Options Team can refer you to Safer Partnership to carry out a survey on your property, highlighting security and safety measures.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to remove or exclude perpetrators of domestic abuse from your home. This may include helping you to get an emergency injunction.

You can get more details from the National Centre for Domestic Violence website or by calling them on 0800 970 2070

Refuge and temporary accommodation

If feel you are at risk of harm and need to leave your home, try to arrange to stay with family or friends, if it is safe to do so. You should also make enquiries about refuge or temporary accommodation.

You can get information on refuge and temporary accommodation from the:

Do not make a decision to give up your home permanently until you have obtained legal advice.

You can find out more about priority need if you're at risk of domestic abuse on Shelter's website.

Young people

If you do not have to leave home, you should carefully consider your options before doing so. If you're not at risk of harm where you live, we may not be able to help you. If you've not planned your move, you may not have enough money for the deposit and advance rent you normally need to rent private accommodation.

If you're at risk of harm, you should seek help immediately and will be offered support.

Explore your options

When you're ready to leave, you'll need to decide the type of housing that will suit you best. A big factor in making this decision will probably be your financial situation. The cost of running a home is rising and many young people decide to share with others at first to share the rent and bills.

Unless you're at risk of harm, you should seek advice before you decide, and do not rush into anything.

If you're having problems at home, help and support is available. Try to find someone you trust to talk to, such as friends, extended family or a teacher at your school or college. If the situation becomes worse, see if there's a place you can go to for a night or two to let everyone cool down.

We may be able to provide mediation in your home with your family to talk about the problems. Remember, if you leave home when you did not need to and without preparation, you may find yourself in an even worse situation.

If you feel unsafe at home or have no choice and have to leave home immediately, for example because someone is being violent or abusive towards you, you must seek help right away.

Your options

Lodging - If you're staying with friends or more distant relatives, you may be able to claim help with accommodations costs.

Room renting - Many young people choose to share accommodation to split costs. You can search online for rooms to rent or for shared houses.

Contact Housing Options - if you are aged 16 to 21 and have been asked to leave home by your parents or guardians, you should contact our Housing Options Team immediately.

We can meet with you to discuss your housing options and provide advice on wider issues.  

If you're 16 or 17 and homeless, we will work with Essex County Council Health and Social Care and make a joint assessment.

The Shelter website has more advice on leaving home and family problems.

Leaving care

If you have spent at least 13 weeks in care between your 14th and 18th birthdays, with at least one day being while you were 16 or 17, you are a "former relevant child" and will get additional help from social services. The Housing Options Team will work closely with them to advise on your options.

You will have a pathway plan that shows you how you will move into independent living, what support is available and what will happen if things don't go according to plan. It is reviewed every 6 months. The plan also tells you who will help you after you leave care: this is your "personal adviser".

If you don't have anywhere to live, your social worker will arrange and attend an appointment with you and a Housing Options Officer.       

If you've lost contact with your personal advisor, our Housing Options Team can arrange another one for you if you are either:

  • a care leaver under 21
  • a care leaver under 25 and in full time education

Your options

Private renting - you may explore renting privately. You can normally apply for housing benefit or universal credit to help pay for your rent, however, after your 25th birthday you will only be eligible for help to cover the cost of a room in a shared house unless your landlord is the council or a housing association, or you have a dependant child.

Foster family - you may remain with your foster family with the help of Social Services.

Council or housing association - apply for a council or housing association home. This is a longer-term option to meet your housing needs.

Homelessness - you may apply as homeless to the council and work with a Housing Options Officer on a Personal Housing Plan to meet your housing need.

If you spent less than 13 weeks in care, or if you returned home successfully when you were 16 or 17, you won't have a pathway plan or personal adviser. However, social services must still advise you, and may give you assistance in exceptional circumstances, such as buying you items you need.

Leaving the armed forces

If you're leaving the armed services, or you're a former member, you may be entitled to help if you become homeless.

You can contact our Housing Options Team if you have:

  • a disability or other serious health problems

  • have found it hard to find somewhere to live since leaving the forces

You'll need to show us your medical history release form if you have one.

If you meet the relevant legal criteria, we may be required to assist you with emergency or longer-term accommodation.

Help from Forces Resettlement

Find out what housing advice and support is provided in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and from the Veteran's Gateway.

Help finding private rented housing

You may be able to get help with the deposit for your rented property through our homelessness prevention fund, either through discretionary housing payment or via the Royal British Legion.

Read about private renting on Shelter's website.

Applying as homeless before discharge from the forces

Let us know you'll be homeless after discharge from the armed forces so that we can explore your housing options before this happens.

Other help and support

These organisations offer housing-related support for those who have served in the armed forces:

You may be eligible for additional preference on the waiting list for social housing, find out more about how to a apply for a council or housing association home.

Find out more about housing help when you leave the armed forces on Shelter's website.

Survivors of modern slavery

Modern slavery is a serious crime.

Victims can be any age, ethnicity or nationality including British citizens.

It can include if you are:

  • tricked or forced into working for little or no pay

  • forced to work for nothing to pay off debts to traffickers

  • told to move drugs around, shoplift or beg by criminals who take the money

Forced work happens more often in some industries including nail bars, car washes, farming, construction and the sex industry.

Tell our Housing Options Team if you have ever been in a situation like this.

You are more at risk of exploitation when homeless.

We will consider if this makes you vulnerable and in priority need.

Safe housing and specialist support

People who might be victims of modern slavery can get safe housing and specialist support.

This applies even if you cannot get benefits in the UK because of immigration conditions.

We can refer you to the Salvation Army with your permission.

You can also phone:

Both helplines offer advice in other languages.

We must provide emergency housing if we think you might be vulnerable and meet immigration conditions.