When considering the need for accommodation under the Housing Act 1996, it is accepted that prioritisation is necessary for some groups. Vulnerable people are one group that qualify for priority treatment.

A recent case dealt with the issue of the level of priority which should be given to the housing need of a man with learning difficulties who had a considerable degree of support from his brother, who provided him with a great deal of assistance in coping with everyday life.

The Court of Appeal considered the position and decided that if the evidence supported the argument that the man, with the willing support of his brother, would be no less able to fend for himself than a person without a ‘qualifying disability’, he would not qualify for prioritisation as a vulnerable person.

However, consideration had also to be given to the man’s vulnerability if he were to be made homeless, when his ‘support network’ was likely to be less effective. If that were the case, he might not be able to fend for himself.

The Court emphasised that in each case the reviewing officer was not required to make an assessment of vulnerability in isolation from the applicant’s known personal circumstances. The local authority was entitled to have regard to the personal support and assistance which had been, and would continue to be, provided.

Accordingly, the applicant in this case was not in ‘priority need’.


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