Priority need for those homeless because of domestic abuse


The Government has announced that those who are homeless because of domestic abuse are to be given priority need for accommodation.

Treading on eggshells

It's long been an anomaly in England that those becoming homeless because of domestic abuse only qualify for the main housing duty if the council accepts they are vulnerable as a result.

This effectively prevents many people escaping abuse. Victims too often face a stark choice between homelessness and remaining in an abusive situation. And such difficulties have been exacerbated in recent years because of cuts to support services and refuge funding, and the affordability crisis.

The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the change on 2 May 2020, which will be delivered via an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The amendment is yet to be published, and we can't be sure of precisely when the change will come into effect. However it should mean those fleeing domestic abuse qualify for settled housing when approaching councils for help.

This has been the case in Wales since 2002.

The Bill received it's second reading last week. You can follow it's progress at

The Minister referred to "priority need status" which of course concerns homelessness. I'm not aware of any planned changes to the 'reasonable preference' priority groups for the allocation of social housing. Although councils must already frame allocation schemes so homeless people receive a degree of priority.

The Minister also announced on Saturday that Dame Louise Casey is to head a homelessness taskforce. The taskforce's stated purpose is to work with councils and the third sector so that rough sleepers (or "as many as possible") can be supported into long-term accommodation once the lockdown is lifted.


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