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30 June, 2020 Open access

MHCLG updates statutory homelessness guidance on priority need, advising local authorities to account for impact of COVID-19 on vulnerability

New guidance advises councils to ‘carefully consider’ the priority need of applicants who have a history of rough sleeping or who are in a clinically vulnerable group

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has updated statutory homelessness guidance on priority need to include advice to local authorities to account for the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on vulnerability.

The update, incorporated yesterday in the Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities, provides for new sub-paragraphs 8.44 and 8.45 of Chapter 8 of the Code that relates to the categories of applicant who have a priority need for accommodation if they become homeless -

‘8.44 COVID-19: Housing authorities should carefully consider the vulnerability of applicants from COVID-19.  Applicants who have been identified by their GP or a specialist as clinically extremely vulnerable are likely to be assessed as having priority need. The vulnerability of applicants who are clinically vulnerable should also be considered in the context of COVID-19. Some applicants may report having medical conditions which are named in the guidance but have not yet been identified by a health professional as being clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable, in which case it may be necessary to seek a clinical opinion in order to confirm their health needs.

8.45 Housing authorities should also carefully consider whether people with a history of rough sleeping should be considered vulnerable in the context of COVID-19, taking into account their age and underlying health conditions. Further guidance on clinical support for people with a history of rough sleeping can be found in the COVID-19 clinical homeless sector plan.’

For more infomation, see Updates: Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities from gov.uk