What is priority need?

Pregnant or children live with you

You have a priority need if you have dependent children who usually live with you.

They can be:

  • your own children

  • stepchildren

  • foster children

  • other children who you are responsible for

Children usually count as dependent if they're under 18 and living at home.

An 18 year old can count as dependent if they're in school or college, or live at home because they cannot support themselves.

Separated parents

You do not usually have a priority need if your children can live with their other parent, even if they often stay with you.

Tell the council about any special reasons why you share the care of your children. For example, if you have a disabled child with high care needs.

How to show you have dependent children

Children usually count as dependent if they are in your universal credit claim or child tax credit award or you get child benefit for them.

The council might ask you for documents like:

  • birth or adoption certificates

  • proof of legal guardianship

The council must give you emergency housing while they check your situation and evidence.

You should get emergency housing even if you do not have documents with you when you first ask for help. You can bring your evidence later.

If you are pregnant

You have a priority need if you or someone you usually live with is pregnant. This includes the very early stages of pregnancy.

Show proof from a doctor or midwife if you can.

Miscarriage and termination

Tell the council if your pregnancy ends while they are looking into your situation.

The council must check if you have a priority need for another reason.

If your pregnancy ends after the council has given you a letter that says they must help with longer term housing, they must continue to provide suitable housing.

Your GP or the Miscarriage Association may help with support after a miscarriage.

If the council say you are not in priority need

You always have a priority need if you're pregnant or dependent children live with you.

Last updated: 29 September 2023

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