Priority need

What is priority need?

Priority need is one of the tests which a homeless person needs to pass for us to decide what help with housing you might be entitled to.

Other tests include whether the person is eligible for homeless assistance in terms of their immigration status, actually homeless, homeless through no fault of their own or intentionally homeless and has a local connection with the local area (determined by the local authority boundaries) where they are making their application.y

Automatic priority need

The following people are automatically in priority need:

  • A pregnant woman or any person living with a pregnant woman.
  • Households with children who live with them or who might reasonably be expected to reside with them.
  • 16 and 17 year olds who are not being looked after by social services under the Children Act 1989.
  • 18 – 20 year olds (other than some students) who at any time between 16 and 18 were, but are no longer, looked after, accommodated or fostered • Any person who has lost their accommodation as a result of an emergency (e.g. fire or flood or other disaster).
  • A person who is homeless as a result of that person being a victim of domestic abuse.

Other than this a single person will only be classed a priority need if they can demonstrate they are vulnerable

A homeless person may be 'vulnerable', in the words of s189 (1) (c) Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002, as a result of:

  • old age
  • mental illness 
  • mental handicap
  • physical disability
  • having been in care (and now 21 or over)
  • having been in the armed forces
  • having been in custody
  • having fled actual or threatened violence or
  • other special reason

The words ‘other special reason’ show that vulnerability arising from other causes (e.g. being a refugee) which will also be considered by our team.

If you have priority need

If we have reason to believe you are homeless, eligible for help and may be in priority need, we will provide you with temporary accommodation. We will do this until we have made a decision on whether you are in priority need.

Once we have assessed you as having priority need, we will then work with you to find suitable longer-term accommodation.

  • If we offer you suitable accommodation and you refuse it, we will have no further duty to help you.
  • If you refuse to co-operate with the steps in your personalised housing plan, and are in priority need, we will make offer you a 'final accommodation offer. This can be a tenancy with a private landlord. This is usually called an assured shorthold tenancy.

If you are intentionally homeless and in priority need, we will provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period. Will also offer you advice and assistance to help you secure longer-term accommodation.