Thursday, 15 September 2011 | By: The One Woman


A place to call home?

So its been a real roller coaster ride for me and the bump, just trying to get information anywhere with limited money and no help was hair pullingly stressful. Its an unnerving experience ticking the 'single' box on forms that I just didn't understand, noticing the disapproving glances from staff that have seen it all before. There is no guide on what you are supposed to do when you suddenly find you've lost your job, your man and to top it off, you're pregnant. I really hope that this helps because I literally closed my eyes and lunged into the system. This is some sense that I managed to gather from it all…. 

Please note that you are not entitled to any kind of maternity or child related benefits until you are due to give birth in 11 weeks time (so around 25 weeks pregnant) 

Weekly benefits
This first thing I needed to do (as I'm newly unemployed) was to sign on for a weekly benefit. I'm only 9 weeks pregnant so I'm not entitled to income support yet, so I had to sign on for JSA (job seekers allowance). It can be anything from approximately £50 to £70 a week, paid straight into my bank account. I competed the form online at an advisor guided me through the whole process once I had filled out the application. You don't have to fill it out online and can walk into any JobCentrePlus, but it is much faster this way. This means I can look into starting a course, volunteering or working as an apprentice for 16 hours a week in a new line of work, Its a chance for a fresh start. Anything over 16 hours and and I was told I would lose my allowance. I have to sign in at the office once a fortnight and prove that I am looking for work via 3 methods i.e newspaper, online and writing to companies. 
Signing for JSA also entitles you to free fruit, vegetables and vitamins when you are in the early stages of pregnancy. You apply via this link

Council housing applications
I began looking at free housing for a female in my situation, this had to be done through my local authority, the local authority is the city council where they deal with housing claims, benefits and placements. If you type into google 'local authority for housing in **your city/town' This will bring up the address and email of where you need to go to speak to an advisor. I then filled out a form that registered me to the housing association, you can pick one up in the office or you can download it from their website. I booked in with an advisor at the local authority to ensure that I filled out the forms correctly, and also just to get some advice.  They sent me a pin number through the post a week or so later, which I can then use to start bidding on housing association, council, or state owned property that is within my specifications. 
Let me stress that if you think you are going to be put on a 'priority list' for a free house when you are single and pregnant, then you a right…BUT this means you will still be waiting at least a year and you are not priority until you are 5 months pregnant. But all the same get that form filled in and start the ball rolling because when the baby is born you may only be a few months away from getting a house sorted out. Non priority bidders are waiting over 2 years and in some cases longer. 

Immediate housing (DSS)
I wasn't sure what I was going to do next, I knew that I couldn't wait a year for a place to live so my advisor suggested that I apply for DSS (Department of Social Services).  The DSS will pay a monthly lump sum to your landlord ranging from approximately £90 to £100 a week to cover the rent on a private property, but you must have paid a deposit and a months rent before you can do this. I am fortunate in that I have the capital to pay a deposit and a months rent on a house. If not, the local authority would advise a shelter while you could work and save up the deposit and months rent, see You could also use a shelter while you wait to be housed in a council property. 
I had to make sure that the land lord accepted DSS before I signed for the property. I haven't moved in yet but I have laid out the money so now I have to fill in a DSS application form obtained from my local authority.

When can I claim benefits and housing as a pregnant woman?

These are things that I will update on as I reach the 25 week mark. Please do look at this link (child benefit/maternity allowance) if you are already at this stage.  

In my next post I will be discussing my first midwife visit and 12 week anti natal procedure.

Links (please click the underlined web addresses)
**For benefit and housing advice
**For womens homeless shelter advice


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