Council housing in the UK currently accommodates around 4.0 million people; out of these majority of the residents are living in council homes supported by housing associations. Although rents for council homes have seen a slow rise in the past few years, it is still a more cost-effective means of living in rent.
In some cases, residents cannot continue to live in their own homes due to medical reasons or a disability of their own or a family member. Either their private homes are overcrowded or are fuelling health concerns in the patients (especially in the case of dampness for respiratory problems) or fail to meet the disability needs of a family member. If residents do not have the means to modify their own homes, they often turn to council homes as an affordable solution.
How To Write a Letter Of Support For Priority Housing in the UK?
A letter of support is generally written by a medical professional to increase applicants’ priority listing in their wait for council housing. Generally, it should be professional in tone, crips, to the point and only state facts that can be supported by evidential documents (if need be).
There are times when the applicant prepares the draft on their own and shares it with the person of authority who may make amendments to the draft prior to penning down a signature.
The letter should start with the intent or purpose of the communication; stating how the benefit to be claimed by an applicant is going to have a positive impact on their lives.
This can be followed by details regarding the applicant’s condition, the negative impact on it due to their current housing arrangements and the improvements expected due to better living conditions.
If however, the letter of support is not on medical grounds, it may contain details of any other reason(s) due to which the applicant may claim priority such as homelessness or living in an overcrowded space. It may help to declare one’s financial information as well at this stage and details of their current living conditions.
The letter should end on a positive, optimistic note without intending to sound decisive. The tone may be of a recommendation; however, it should be a request and not a command. Writers of such letters (whether it is the applicant or the signing authority) should bear in mind that the purpose of letters of priority is to share facts; the decision to assign council housing on priority will remain at the discretion of council authorities. Therefore, they are advised to share as many facts and evidence along with the letter to improve their chances of being assigned a council house at the earliest possible.
Following are some of the essential parts of a letter of support:
- name of applicant
- name of author
- relationship between applicant and author
- duration of the relationship between applicant and author
- background of applicant’s condition
- impact of support on applicant’s condition
- essential aspects of housing that the applicant requires (in case of a disability)
Examples of Letter Of Support For Priority Housing in the UK
Below are some sample letters that may be used depending upon claimants’ circumstances:
Example 1 for a Letter Of Support For Priority Housing in the UK (Reason: General Letter)
Dear To Whom It May Concern,
This is with reference to the request filed for priority listing on the council housing waiting list by [name of applicant].
I, [name of author] who has been in contact with the claimant for the past [number of years] as [relationship between applicant and author] would like to state that their current living conditions are inadequate due to [background of applicant’s condition].
In my professional opinion, the claimant may be able to benefit greatly should they be provided council housing on a priority basis due to the following reasons: [the impact of support on applicant’s condition]
Attached are details of the claimant’s visit to my office with my recommendations to them with regards to their living conditions.
I hope that with your help and support they will find council housing premises that befits their needs.
Should there be any further assistance required, please feel free to contact the undersigned.
Regards,[name of author] [position held by author] [organisation/department]
Example 2 for a Letter Of Support For Priority Housing in the UK (Reason: Medical/Disability)
Dear To Whom It May Concern,
This is with reference to the application being filed at your council office by Mr. (insert name) with the request for a claim to priority considering their medical condition.
I am Dr. (insert name) who has been consulting the applicant for the past five years now for lung disease.
I am sure you would understand that their privately rented house is not in a liveable condition due to the mould and dampness on the interiors and will only add to the health challenges that my patient is currently suffering.
Additionally, with his employment status being shifted from full time to part-time due to weak health, he is unable to make ends meet by staying at a privately rented house.
It is, therefore, requested that Mr. (insert name) be granted council housing on a priority basis so that his health does not deteriorate any further.
Enclosed are some of the medical recommendations made to the applicant over the course of the past few months by the undersigned. Should you require further details regarding his medical records, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
(name of author)
(position held by author)
Example 3 for a Letter Of Support For Priority Housing in the UK (Reason: Homelessness)
Dear To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to you with reference to the priority housing request for a council flat by Ms. (insert name).
Being her neighbour for the past seven years, I have known her to be honest, hardworking and a friendly social acquaintance.
However, with the unfortunate losses in her business, Ms. (insert name) has been facing financial challenges for many months now. I have personally witnessed her emotional health being deteriorate during this time due to which she is unable to regain the confidence to start working again.
Since Ms. (insert name) is unable to pay her rent at her current privately rented property, her landlord has issued an eviction notice which puts her at risk of being homeless by next month. It is a humble request to help her find accommodation on council premises so that she may not be in such dire circumstances.
I hope to hear a favourable response from you.
How Can A Letter Of Support Help For Priority Housing In The UK?
A letter of support is usually written by doctors to help those claimants of council housing who file an application on medical grounds. The purpose of such a letter is to state the claimant’s health challenges in their current residence; which may be life-threatening in some cases. With the support of such recommendations, claimant’s are expected to get a higher priority band for council housing so that their living conditions may be improved.
If you or a family member are faced with a medical condition that is being worsened due to the house you currently live in or the medical condition is a disability and your current house does cannot provide for disability needs (despite possible modifications) you can apply for council housing. Depending on the severity of the condition, you will be allotted a band to indicate your position on the priority list for council housing.
In case of a non-serious medium-range medical condition, you will be awarded a Band 3 while serious conditions elevate the applicant to Band 1. In case of community work done by the applicant or their family members, a Band 2 might be assigned by the council; however, there is no confirmation on the allotment unless an application is filed along with supportive evidence.
In such cases, where council housing (and in some cases council housing that meets specific needs on medical grounds) is imperative for the health and safety of a claimant, a letter of support from their doctor can help in speeding up the application process and the council may consider giving them a higher band on the priority list so that an early transfer can be managed. Otherwise, it can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to find an appropriate council house once your claim has been approved.
It is essential to submit a Medical assessment form along with other supportive documents (as per the guidance of your local council) when you apply for council housing on medical grounds.
For a detailed overview of the need for a letter of support, we will explore the following areas:
- Getting a council house on medical grounds
- Getting a council house in case of a disability
- Eligibility criteria for council housing
- Priority for council house allocation
- The application process for council housing
- Steps to take in case of refusal of an application
Can I Get A Council House On Medical Grounds?
Yes, you can get a council house on medical grounds. In fact, depending on the severity of the medical issues being faced by an applicant or their family member, the council housing application may be given priority over others.
Serious medical conditions that qualify for a high priority allotment for council housing include the following:
- the applicant’s condition is expected to be terminal within twelve months and they need re-housing for appropriate care
- the applicant’s current place of residence is contributing to their life-threatening condition and it cannot be resolved within a short period of time (or at all)
- the applicant is living in an overcrowded property due to which there risk of life-threatening infection
- They are housebound due to a lack of wheelchair access in the house
- They can not be released from hospital in their current home due to lack of required amenities
Can I Get Council House If I Have Disabled Child?
Yes, not only will you qualify for council housing if you have a disabled child but you will be put on priority so that you may receive council housing at the earliest possible.
However, not everyone who has a child facing disabilities will be looking for a council house. Depending on the needs of their child, they may make modifications to their existing home and claim state benefits such as Disability Living Allowance.
It is in cases where the parents’ previous home becomes unsuitable for a child with disabilities or they can no longer afford it due to reduced income (in case one of the parents had to leave their job to tend to their child), would they be in need for council housing.
In addition to council housing, you will also be eligible for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to tend to your child’s care and mobility needs. DLA is a monthly allowance paid directly into your account to tend to the needs of your disabled child. Depending on the extent of care and their individual requirements, claimants may receive anything between £23 to £89 for the Care Component and between £23 to £65 for the mobility Component.
Additionally, your local council can help you with short breaks, holiday play schemes, care at home as well as financial help. They can also help you Apply for direct payments if you claim benefits.
Who Is Eligible 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.
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
Who Gets Priority For Council Housing?
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 Should I File An Application 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
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
- assets in possession such as automobile
- visas or immigration documents (if the applicant is not from the UK)
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.
If you had not submitted a letter of support along with your council housing application, this is the time to request one from your GP and use it as supportive evidence to file an appeal.
While council housing applications that are based on medical grounds are generally ranked high on the priority list, you need a letter of support from a medical practitioner to serve as evidence of your claim. Whether your housing application is based on physical health or disability grounds, a recommendation from your GP can help you in getting a council house earlier than others.
As you would know by now that just being approved for council housing doesn’t mean that there will be an immediate change of residence. Depending on the priority band allotted to you, it could take months or even years to move into your desired council house.
If you have applied for council housing previously and your application has not been accepted, there is a strong likelihood that there wasn’t enough supportive evidence. You can request a support letter from your GP when you file an appeal against the refusal to council housing (should you be faced with one).
FAQs: How Can A Letter Of Support Help For Priority Housing In The UK?
What is a supporting letter for housing?
A supporting letter for housing is usually written by a doctor at the request of an applicant for council housing. It supports the medical claims upon which the request for council housing is based and states how a council house may positively affect the claimant’s health or provide assistance with their disability.
How do I write a letter asking for housing assistance?
There are many websites including those of some local councils that have templates for written communication to assist those who need to write letters in support of their housing application. The general format is to state your reason after salutation and mention of evidential documents that are included (or shared earlier). You should also refer to earlier communication on the subject if there has been any.
Can GPs help with housing?
Yes, GPs can help with housing by providing a letter of support to serve as a recommendation for housing applications made on medical grounds. Even if claimant’s do not ask GPs for a letter of support, the council will get in touch with them when they start to consider the application.
What is medical priority for housing?
When an application for council housing is made due to the ill health of a claimant or their family member stating reasons why their health or disability is worsening due to their current living conditions, it is considered as a medical priority for council housing.
Is mental health a priority for housing?
Yes, mental health is a priority for council housing. In fact, it is considered to be on the highest band of priority due to which councils will arrange appropriate accommodation for the claimant on an emergency basis. However, they will require documented evidence to support such a claim.