Today, 29 June 2020, MHCLG issued an update to the statutory Homelessness code of guidance for local authorities.
The relevant updates are to the chapter on priority need and consist of a new paragraph 8.44 and 8.45, as follows:
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.
This may not be quite as strong as the Guidance in Wales, which, for example, states that it is “almost inevitable” that someone who is street homeless or faced with street homelessness is vulnerable in the context of the pandemic, but it is welcome nonetheless.