People in prison
- What we mean by prisoner
- Prisoners with partners
- Prisoners on remand
- Prisoners on leave
- Prisoners in mental hospitals
- Other financial help for prisoners
What we mean by prisoner
We define a prisoner as somebody held in custody who is:
- serving a prison sentence, or
- awaiting trial or sentence (i.e. on remand).
Prisoners are not entitled to Pension Credit apart from remand prisoners who may be eligible for housing costs (see Prisoners on remand below).
Prisoners with partners
If your customer is a prisoner and has a partner who has reached the minimum qualifying age (qualifying age tables) the partner should apply for Pension Credit. (If they are under the minimum qualifying age they may be able to claim Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.)
Prisoners on remand
If your customer is in custody on remand and their family is living in their normal home, the family may be able to get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. They should claim straight away. If they delay, they may lose benefit. If the family already gets Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit they should tell the local authority as soon as your customer goes into custody.
If your customer is single they can continue to get Pension Credit to cover their housing costs (such as mortgage interest) while they are in custody on remand if there is no-one else responsible for their home and they expect to be away for less than 52 weeks or, in special circumstances, for slightly longer. For example where a claimant has gone into hospital or has to live in a hostel as a condition of bail.
If your customer is in custody on remand and expects to be away from their normal home for less than 52 weeks they may be able to get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit for up to 52 weeks while they are away. These payments will be made directly to the person or organisation the money is owed to.
Prisoners on leave
Your customer will not be entitled to Pension Credit if they go on a short period of release on temporary licence to help prepare for their discharge or are released early on an ‘end of custody’ licence.
However, if they will be staying with someone who is getting Pension Credit, this person may be able to get a Community Care Grant from the Social Fund towards the cost of their stay. The person should make an application before your customer’s temporary licence release begins. (For further information, see the Social Fund.
Prisoners in mental hospitals
If your customer is subject to a prison sentence for a criminal offence but has been
- transferred to hospital for treatment under section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (or section 136 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003), or
- sent by the court to hospital for treatment under section 45A of the Mental Health Act 1983 (or section 59A of the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995),
they cannot get Pension Credit for the time they would otherwise have spent in prison. After this time, we will treat them in the same way as other people in hospital.
Other financial help for prisoners
Prisoners cannot get money for court expenses but if, for example, they are stranded away from home after release from remand, they may be able to get a Crisis Loan from the Social Fund to get home.