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What is priority need?

Health conditions and disabilities

You could have a priority need if you are disabled or have a health condition. You might need to show the council how this affects you.

The council looks at your evidence and situation.

They decide if you count as having a priority need. This means you are at much greater risk of harm than most people if you are homeless.

You could have a priority need if you or someone in your household has:

  • mental health problems

  • a physical or learning disability

  • a serious illness or health condition

How to show you have a priority need

Tell the council as much as you can about your disability or health condition.

Let them know if you take medication. Say:

  • what it is for

  • how it helps

  • any side effects

  • how it needs to be stored

Tell the council what would happen if you became homeless. For example, if your health would quickly get much worse, you could not cope, or you would be at risk of violence or people taking advantage of you.

Tell the council about other things that could make you vulnerable.

Use our letter template

Our template shows you what to say to the housing officer.

Your doctor, psychiatrist, social worker or support worker could write you a supporting letter to show the council.

Disabled under the Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 says you are disabled if:

  • you have a physical or mental condition that makes daily activities harder

  • your condition has lasted for at least 12 months

You're also disabled under the Equality Act if you have HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis. This starts as soon as you are diagnosed.

You might still need to tell the council how your condition would make it much worse for you to be homeless than most other people.

Mental health problems

Tell the council how your mental health affects you day to day and what would happen if you were on the streets.

Tell them if you:

  • take medication

  • have a medical diagnosis

  • get support from a hospital or community mental health team

You are likely to count as vulnerable if you're homeless after staying in hospital for treatment because of your mental health.

You can ask the hospital to refer you to the homeless team before you have to leave.

Older people

There is no set age for older people to count as having a priority need.

Tell the council about any health problems or disabilities you have because of your age.

Disabled or ill after leaving the armed forces

Tell the council if you've had post traumatic stress or other serious health problems because of your military service.

Say if you:

  • had a front line role

  • are disabled or were seriously injured

  • were released on medical grounds

Show the council your medical history release form if you have one.

Find out about housing help when you leave the armed forces.

If the council say you are not in priority need

The council must look into your situation before they can make a decision.

If you're homeless and they think you might be vulnerable because of your health or disability, they must provide emergency housing while they look into things.

Last updated: 29 September 2023

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