What is priority need?

Children live with you or you're pregnant

You're in 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're 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 cannot support themselves and live at home.

Showing you have dependent children

Most councils will accept that children are dependent if they are included in your universal credit or child tax credit award or you get child benefit for them.

You might be asked for other documents, for example:

  • birth or adoption certificates

  • proof of legal guardianship

The council must give you emergency housing while they look into your situation.

You should not be refused emergency housing if you cannot provide proof of pregnancy or children when you first ask for help. You can supply this later.

Separated parents

You will not normally be in priority need if your children can also live with their other parent, even if they often stay with you.

Tell the council about any special circumstances that mean you have to share the care of your children. For example, if you have a severely disabled child.

Priority need if you're pregnant

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

Show confirmation from a doctor or midwife if you can.

Miscarriage and termination

You should tell the council if your pregnancy ends while they are still looking into your situation or helping you with a personal housing plan.

A housing officer usually decides if you qualify for longer term housing after about 8 weeks if you're still homeless.

The council must see if you have another priority need or are vulnerable for another reason.

If your pregnancy ends after the council writes to tell you that you qualify for longer term housing, they must provide suitable housing even if you're not in priority need anymore.

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

If the council say you do not have a priority need

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

Find out what to do if the council says you do not have a priority need.

Last updated: 3 December 2021

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