Getting advice about housing
Shelter Scotland 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 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Citizens Advice Scotland have an advice site that can also help you find your local citizens advice bureau for face-to-face advice and help. Their main site includes information about benefits, immigration, housing and other useful topics.
The Scottish Legal Aid Board fund legal advice in Scotland and run a helpline that can tell you how to get legal aid and help you find a solicitor or law centre: 0845 122 8686. It is open seven days a week 7am to 11pm.
Private renting and rights
Advice for children
Coram Children's Legal Centre has a Migrant Children's Project which offers resources on their rights and a free UK advice line, 0207 636 8505, available in office hours, Tuesday-Thursday.
Advice for migrant workers
TalentScotland is a talent attraction project designed to help employers in Scotland recruit the skills they need from abroad. It also offers advice about visas, immigration and relocation.
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 has also produced some leaflets in Bulgarian, English, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Slovakian about working in the UK.
The Scottish Migrants Network, which brings together many organisations working with migrants in Scotland, hopes to run information campaigns about migrant workers' rights in Scotland.
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 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 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.
Tax credits are benefits available for some people who are on low incomes, but in work. Information about them and about the minimum wage is available from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
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 0800 444205 and they are open until 8.00pm weekdays and 2.00pm Saturdays.
Advice for refugees and asylum seekers
The largest organisation working for refugees in Scotland is the Scottish Refugee Council. It has some advice pages for particular circumstances:
- People who haverefugee status
- People who have not yet claimed asylum
- People waiting for an asylum decision
- People refused asylum
The Asylum Seeker Housing Project has a website which makes it easy for asylum seekers in Home Office accommodation to make complaints or report repairs.
Asylum Help provides help for asylum seekers across the UK. Their advice line is 0808 8000 630.
Refugee Action also has general advice for refugees and asylum seekers.
Positive Action in Housing is a Scottish-wide charity. They offer advice, information and support to people from new migrant, refugee and minority ethnic communities and run a free casework service for those facing poverty, homelessness, racism or poor housing. They also run a Hardship Fund and provide emergency shelter and practical resources for destitute asylum seekers and their families.
Positive Action in Housing is a Scottish-wide charity. More information on their services is given above.
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.
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.