Skip to main content


Families that are destitute or at risk of homelessness are unable to access benefits and housing assistance when parents have no recourse to public funds or are European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who are ineligible for benefits.

Social services may have a duty to provide housing and financial support to a family to safeguard the welfare of a child who is at risk of homelessness or whose parents do not have sufficient resources available to meet their housing and basic living needs. This support is provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 in England, or under equivalent legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The web tool has been designed to help council officers working with non-UK national families establish what the correct support route or options may be for a family at risk of homelessness and to help inform what may need to be considered when support from social services is requested.

It can also be used by voluntary sector advisers and families themselves to help identify appropriate support routes or the steps a family may be able to take before they reach crisis point. 

The tool was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at Oxford University and Soapbox. The project has been funded by the Legal Education Foundation and has won a community integration award.

What information is provided

Use the web tool to find out: 

  • Whether a family may be eligible for benefits 
  • What social services will consider when assessing a family’s eligibility for support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 
  • What immigration options the family may have and when they may require signposting to get legal advice from an immigration adviser  
  • Whether a family will have the right to rent in the private sector (England only) 

Users will need to answer questions about the parent’s immigration status and general information is provided based on the answers given. No personal information is taken. Users may request that the information is emailed to them but the email address is not stored.

Important update (January 2021)

The web tool has not yet been updated with the new immigration requirements and rules regarding benefit eligibility that now apply to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. For the current position, please refer to our factsheet on supporting EEA nationals who are destitue or at risk of homelessness (PDF)

How to access the tool

Access the tool.

Download a PDF flyer to promote the tool within your service or to members of the public.