Getting advice about housing
Shelter offer written advice on private renting, deposits, problems with landlords, etc on their website. This allows you to search for housing advice by area, and to get the contact details of Shelter's local offices, which offer free advice and help with all types of housing problems. Shelter also run a free helpline for urgent problems on 0808 800 4444, open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm at weekends.
In Wales, Shelter Cymru offer written advice on homelessness, finding a place to live, problems with landlords, etc on their website. They also offer advice by telephone on 0845 075 5005 and can answer email enquiries via the website. They run a network of local offices and projects and you can use the link to find the nearest one to you.
A website run by Homeless Link offers information about services for anyone facing homelessness, including a directory of services.
Citizens Advice have an advice site that can also help you find your local citizens advice bureau for face-to-face advice and help. The site includes information about benefits, immigration, housing and other useful topics. It has separate sections for the different parts of the UK and has a section in Welsh (click the 'Cymru' tab).
Private renting and rights
Crisis has a useful site about the private rented sector with lots of information about renting privately as well as a list of schemes that may be able to help with deposits and rent in advance.
Rent Smart Wales is a scheme which can help find a good landlord or agent of private rented property in parts of Wales. The website has a search facility and other information about renting privately.
Advice for children and young people
Coram Children's Legal Centre has a Migrant Children's Project which offers resources on their rights and a free advice line, 0207 636 8505, available in office hours, Tuesday-Thursday.
The Law Centres Network publishes a simple guide to the housing options for homeless 16 and 17 year olds, with places to go for further help.
Advice for migrant workers
In Wales, the Welsh Government has produced a Welcome to Wales pack for migrant workers.
The Migrant Workers Project covers the East Midlands and Lincolnshire, but includes information of use to all migrant workers. Their site can be read in Albanian, Czech, German, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Turkish, Ukrainian and English.
The Trades Union Congress, which represents all major UK trades unions, has an easy-access guide to Working in the UK. It also runs the worksmart website which includes a section for migrant workers. From there you can access the leaflet workSMART know your rights in English and in:
The UK government website has a section offering advice on working, jobs and pensions, which includes guidance on the National Minimum Wage.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC - a government department which collects and administers taxes and pays tax credits and child benefits) have pages for migrant workers explaining taxes, national insurance, self-employment, tax credits and the National Minimum Wage which they enforce.
The Health and Safety Executive which enforces health and safety at work legislation has pages for migrant workers.
The AIRE centre can offer written advice about some aspects of the rights of European migrants in the UK.
The Anti-Slavery project publishes leaflets in ten different languages designed to tell migrant workers about their employment rights.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority regulates gangmasters (agents employing workers) in certain industries.
Benefits and taxes
The Department for Work and Pensions administers welfare benefits (for the unemployed and those unable to work) in the UK. The UK government website includes comprehensive information about benefits for:
- people of working age
- pensioners and people planning pensions
- carers and disabled people
- people with children.
No information is currently available in languages other than English or Welsh. Tax credits are available for some people who are on low incomes, but in work.
This independent welfare rights site by Dumfries Welfare Rights has written guides to all the main benefits.
Many local councils include a housing and council tax benefits calculator on their sites (here is an example from Salford City Council). Turn2us also has a benefits checker (but may be of limited use to new migrants).
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has a section of its website which covers benefits and tax issues for migrants. Together with the Migrants Resource Centre it also operates a telephone helpline - 033 33355 333.
Advice on equalities issues
The Equality Advisory Support Service provides information advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues to individuals in England, Scotland and Wales. Their advice line number is 0808 800 0082 and they are open until 8.00pm weekdays and 2.00pm on Saturdays.
Advice for refugees
The largest organisation working for refugees in England is the Refugee Council. It has advice pages and has links to other support services.
The Welsh Refugee Council works with refugees over all of Wales.
Asylum Help provides help for asylum seekers across the UK. Their advice line is 0808 8000 630.
Praxis Community Projects is based in London and offers a telephone and drop in advice service to all vulnerable migrants, including rejected asylum seekers and people with no recourse to public funds and other immigration problems.
Doctors of the World run a London clinic and advocacy programme based at Praxis, for anyone who has difficulty accessing mainstream healthcare.
The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that aims to promote respect for the human rights of undocumented migrants within Europe. The website includes a great deal of information, resources and news of interest.
NACCOM is the UK national No Accommodation network which provides a list and map of all projects offering accommodation to migrants with no recourse to public funds.
Project 17 offers advice to people with children who need to apply to social services for accommodation.
The Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution is a group of national organisations working on this issue and their website has links to resources produced by their members.