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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the circumstances in which an individual can be assessed as having a housing priority need in a local authority in England.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to issue guidance to local authorities on the definition of priority with regards to homelessness applications in England.
England has a strong homelessness safety net in legislation, as set out in the Housing Act 1996. The circumstances by which an applicant will be deemed to be in priority need are outlined in the statutory Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities (2006). Chapter Ten of the Code of Guidance outlines the following categories of applicant who have a priority need for accommodation under the homelessness legislation:
i) a pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside; ii) a person with whom dependent children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside; iii) a person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside; iv) a person aged 16 or 17 who is not a ‘relevant child’ or a child in need to whom a local authority owes a duty under section 20 of the Children Act 1989; v) a person under 21 who was (but is no longer) looked after, accommodated or fostered between the ages of 16 and 18; vi) a person aged 21 or more who is vulnerable as a result of having been looked after, accommodated or fostered; vii) a person who is vulnerable as a result of having been a member of Her Majesty’s regular naval, military or air forces; viii) a person who is vulnerable as a result of:
a) having served a custodial sentence,
(b) having been committed for contempt of court or any other kindred offence, or
(c) having been remanded in custody; ix) a person who is vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out; x) a person who is vulnerable for any other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside; and xi) a person who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster.