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Meaning of priority need
HA 1996 s189 states that:-
’(1) The following have a priority need for accommodation-
(a) A pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;
(b) A person with whom dependant children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside;
(c) A person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness, handicap or physical disability or other special reason or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;
(d) A person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency, such as flood, fire or other disaster.
The Secretary of State may order that other categories are defined as being within priority need and separate (and slightly different) orders have been made with regard to England and Wales in that regard.
In Myhill v Wealden District Council (2004) two single, homeless Travellers argued that because of the greater likelihood of homelessness amongst Gypsies and Travellers as a result of the lack of authorised sites, difficulty in finding ‘accommodation’ and the possibility of criminal prosecution for staying at unauthorised encampments, they should be seen as being ‘vulnerable’ and thus ‘in priority need’. Both the County Court and the High Court rejected this argument. The High Court stated that ‘vulnerability’ clearly related to the ability of the individual to deal with the condition of homelessness, rather than to the question of the difficulties that homeless Gypsies and Travellers would face.