Council Housing is aimed at helping those vulnerable individuals from the community who are struggling with low finances and the ability to meet their living costs. In addition to low rent housing, if someone is on low income, they may also be eligible for some other state benefits as well such as Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or Council Tax Reduction. If you think you are eligible to claim state benefits get in touch with your local council office for guidance. 

Can I Get Council House If I’m Pregnant?

Yes, you can get a council house if you are pregnant. In fact, you will be considered to be in “priority need” which means that you can expect to receive an offer for transfer to council housing much sooner than a lot of other people. During this transition, the council will arrange temporary residence for you until suitable and permanent living arrangements are made.

In addition to council housing, you will also be eligible for the following state benefits:

  • Universal Credit: This is applicable if the applicant is pregnant and also without an income
  • Housing Benefit: This will help you with rent and housing costs
  • Discretionary Housing Payment: This is a non-refundable one-time payment to help with rent/deposit/advance
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant: This is a £500 grant to help expecting mothers with the expenses of their first child
  • Free NHS dental care and prescriptions  
  • Child Benefit: These are regular payments made after the child is born up until they are 16 years of age (in some cases it may be up to 20 years if the child is in full time education)

Through the following passages, we will try to answer the following questions about council housing:

  • Can I Get Council House If I’m Single Mum?
  • Can I Get Council Housing If I Work?
  • Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?
  • How Can I Apply For Council Housing?
  • How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?
  • What Happens Once The Application is Accepted? 
  • Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?
  • What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

Can I Get Council House If I’m Single Mum?

If you are a single mum with a dependant child or children, you will be considered on high priority for council housing. In addition to this, if the applicant is a teenage single mum especially between the ages of 16-17, or they have fled domestic abuse, they will be assigned a higher priority band for council housing.

Generally, each council has their own rules for the provision of council homes. This is called an “allocation scheme”; according to which applicants’ eligibility criteria and priorities are assigned.

However, as a basic rule, anyone who is above 18 years of age, low on income and savings can apply for council housing. Some councils also require a “local connection” of the applicant. This means that either they have lived in the vicinity for a number of years or they have a family or job in the area.

Can You Get Council Housing If You Work?

Yes, individuals who are working and have an income may still be able to avail of council housing. According to the English Housing Survey of 2019-2020 (a nationwide analysis of people’s housing conditions), nearly 45 per cent of social renters were employed; with 31 per cent working full time and 14 per cent working part-time. They also constitute the majority of the social rented sector which accounts for 4.0 million households. The data from this survey further suggests that 25 per cent of social renters were retired, while 24% were in full-time education who were inactive. This relates to being out of work either due to a disability, long-term illness, or having to look after a family. 

Who Is Eligible For Council Housing?

Key criteria for council housing eligibility include the following:

  • the applicants hold British or Irish citizenship
  • they have indefinite leave to remain
  • they fall under settled status (under the EU settlement scheme)
  • they are refugees or under humanitarian protection
  • they are a Commonwealth citizen with a right of abode

While each council has an individual allocation scheme to follow in terms of assigning priority to council housing applicants, claimants who fulfil any of the following criteria are expected to be higher on priority:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

However, as per a recent news report, foster parents and key workers will get higher priority for council housing in some areas. Foster parents and adoptive parents are being assigned Band 1 to extend the maximum benefit to their children. In recognition of their work during the pandemic, key workers have been assigned a Band 2 (The total number of bands is 4 with Band 1 being the highest on the priority list).

How Can I Apply For Council Housing?

To apply for council housing, candidates are required to apply to their local council (mostly online), who will then consider it based on their criteria for awarding priority to those from certain demographics and or social classes. To find out details about your local council click on this link Find your local council

Even if the local council accepts and prioritizes the application, it does not mean that the applicant will be provided with occupancy rights immediately. They will simply be confirmed to be eligible and added to a waiting list. The time between application and occupancy varies from council to council and may also depend upon the size of the waiting list.

How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?

Candidates are advised to share as many relevant details as possible in their application and also include any supporting evidence to back up their claims. This may include medical reports or doctor’s notes, in case the application is being raised on medical grounds. 

Details of the following may be required:

  • income and/or benefits
  • employment history
  • long-term medical conditions or disabilities
  • savings 
  • assets in possession such as automobile
  • visas or immigration documents (if the applicant is not from the UK)

These details not only determine whether or not a candidate is eligible; but may also increase their rank in a list of priority applicants. Furthermore, they also help to determine the size of housing that may be required by them.

What Happens Once The Application is Accepted? 

Once an application is accepted, the local council assigns candidates to a group (also referred to as or ‘band’) and assigns a level of priority.

A high priority indicates that the candidate can expect to be assigned a home urgently. However, there are chances that despite being assigned a high priority label, some individuals may have to wait a long time. 

Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?

Applicants will need to check with their local councils whether a place of residence will be chosen and assigned by the council or the residents be given the option to choose. In the case of the latter, once the application is approved, the local council may share an online platform where the process of “bidding” takes place.

If a candidate finds a suitable home and prefers it as their residence, they may inform the council of their intent by applying for it online. This is called “bidding”. The council may then direct them on how to proceed with the next steps in the bidding process.

A bid is merely a show of interest from the candidates’ side and does not guarantee that they may be assigned the premises. Depending upon the priority band and the time taken as part of the waiting list, the council decides whether the property is to be assigned as a housing facility to the bidding candidate or not.

What Happens After A Home Is Offered?

The local council contacts candidates directly to inform them once they’ve been assigned a council home. Additionally, they also indicate the time frame that a candidate has to accept or refuse the premises being offered. There is usually a small window for candidates to respond before the council home is offered to someone else.

In the case of mutual agreement, a contract is drawn up and signed. Candidates may be offered a fixed-term contract (this may be for a year or more) or a long-term tenancy agreement. The council indicates the dates when occupants may move into the premises. They will also inform you of the dates when rent payments will be expected.

It must be noted here that as per the English Housing Survey of 2019-2020, social rents are charged higher if the property is located in London as compared to that outside. On average, social renters in London have been estimated to pay a weekly rent of £138 as compared to that of £95 outside London.

What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

In case of refusal of their application for council housing, candidates may challenge the decision by asking the local council for a review.

Decisions about priority bands assigned by the council as well those stating refusal for housing may be requested for review if the candidate carries substantial evidence to prove their claim. It is only with proof of supportive documents that an application may be challenged for review.

Conclusion:

Being a new mother, whether it’s your first time or you are an experienced mother, does bring certain challenges with it; especially if you are not working full time or are on low income. The recent pandemic forced many mothers to quit their jobs to tend to children at home due to extended lockdowns and school closures. However, with state benefits and being considered to be on priority for council housing, the expecting mother will be taken care of. In addition to this, they may be eligible for food coupons, grants and even free prescriptions from the NHS. 

FAQs: Can I Get Council House If I’m Pregnant?

How can I get housing when pregnant?

Housing for pregnant women may come from different sources. The first thing you should do is contact your local council so that they may arrange a council house on affordable rent for you. If finding suitable accommodation takes time, they will be able to arrange temporary residence/shelter for you to prevent homelessness. Additionally, many housing associations, charities and grants fast track applications of expecting mothers.

How can I get a council flat fast?

To be listed higher on the priority list for council housing, applicants should be able to fall within the falling criteria:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

Can I apply for unemployment if I’m pregnant?

Unless it is a complicated pregnancy and conditions prevent the expecting mother from performing the usual tasks associated with her job, there is little to no reason to claim unemployed status due to pregnancy. However, if you were claiming certain benefits prior to being pregnant, you will continue to receive them.  

What benefits can I claim while pregnant?

In addition to council housing, you will also be eligible for the following state benefits:

  • Universal Credit: This is applicable if the applicant is pregnant and also without an income
  • Housing Benefit: This will help you with rent and housing costs
  • Discretionary Housing Payment: This is a non-refundable one-time payment to help with rent/deposit/advance
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant: This is a £500 grant to help expecting mothers with the expenses of their first child
  • Free NHS dental care and prescriptions  

How long is the wait for a council house?

It may take anywhere between 12 to 36 months to wait for a council house of your choice. However, if you are listed as being on priority need, you may be able to find one much earlier than that. If you are on the priority list and fear homelessness, the council will provide temporary accommodation/shelter until a council house is arranged.

References:

Pregnant and Homeless: A Guide to Pregnancy Support | Centrepoint

Pregnant or Homeless With Kids Support | Centrepoint

Financial Support for Single Parents | Benefits | Information | singleparents.org.uk

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