Priority need when pregnant and homeless

A person will be in priority need when applying as homeless if they are pregnant or someone in the household is pregnant.

This content applies to England

Priority need of pregnant women

A pregnant woman, and anyone that lives with her or would reasonably be expected to live with her, has a priority need.[1]

This is the case regardless of the length of time that the woman has been pregnant.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance makes clear that priority need arises as soon as the pregnancy is established.[2] Local authorities should be satisfied with a doctor or midwife's letter confirming the pregnancy.

Priority need after miscarriage or termination

Once a local authority has made a decision on priority need, that decision cannot be changed as a result of a subsequent miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.

The court has held that the ongoing duty to secure accommodation can only be ended by one of a series of events specified in Housing Act 1996[3] and not by the person no longer having a priority need.[4]

If pregnancy ends due to a miscarriage or termination before a decision has been made, the local authority may find that the applicant does not have a priority need. This information is relevant to the decision and the applicant is under a duty to report this change of circumstances.

The local authority should then consider whether the person who has experienced a miscarriage or termination is vulnerable as a result.[5]

Household members who are disregarded

If the applicant is subject to immigration control, any household member who is a person from abroad who is ineligible for assistance is usually disregarded when determining whether the applicant has a priority need.[6]

For example, in an application made by a refugee, any ineligible household members would be disregarded when assessing whether they had a priority need.

If the applicant is not subject to immigration control then any ineligible household members can be considered when assessing whether they have a priority need.[7] If the main housing duty is owed then there are special rules on how it can be discharged.

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references here are to this Code. For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

Last updated: 12 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.189(a) Housing Act 1996.

  • [2]

    para 8.5 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [3]

    s.193(6) Housing Act 1996.

  • [4]

    R v Brent LBC ex parte Sadiq (2000) 33 HLR 525, QBD.

  • [5]

    para 8.5 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [6]

    s.185(4) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No. 1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).

  • [7]

    s.185(4) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No. 1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28).