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Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people who applied to local authorities for housing have been assessed under homelessness criteria as priority need in the last (a) six months, (b) 12 months and (c) two years; and how many of those applicants were (i) ex-service personnel, (ii) ex-prisoners and (iii) asylum seekers. (258036)

Information about English local housing authorities' actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected include the number of applicants accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). These households are known as 'accepted' households.

In addition, some applicants may be found to be in priority need, but are not accepted as owed a main homelessness duty because they were found to be intentionally homeless. For these cases we do not hold the reason for priority need centrally.

During the last six months for which data are available (April to September 2008), 34,640 applicants were assessed as being homeless and in priority need. 30,020 of these were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty, of which 20 were vulnerable through having previously served in HM forces, 140 through having previously been on remand or in custody, and 40 through having previously been an asylum seeker (note that since April 2000, asylum seekers have been ineligible for assistance under the homelessness legislation, with certain exceptions where an asylum claim had been made prior to 3 April 2000).

The following table summarises the data for the most recent six months, and also shows figures for the most recent 12-month and two-year period:

(a) April to September 2008 (last 6 months)

(b) October 2007 to September 2008 (12 months)

(c) October 2006 to September 2008 (2 years)

Applicants found to be homeless and in priority need




Of which: accepted as owed a main homelessness duty




Of which: applicant vulnerable as a result of:

(i) having served in HM Forces




(ii) having previously been on remand or in custody




(iii) being a former asylum seeker




However it is important to note that some applicants who had previously been in the HM forces, on remand or in custody, or are a former asylum seeker, may have been accepted with alternative primary priority needs (for example through having dependent children or being a pregnant woman) and so will not be shown as being priority need for these reasons.