Vulnerable households going into social housing


1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2017/18, 27.9% of new social housing lettings were given to vulnerable households with a priority need (counting those where ethnicity was known)
  • for all ethnic groups except the Bangladeshi group, homelessness was the most common reason why vulnerable households were given priority for social housing
  • for Bangladeshi households, the most common reason for being given priority for social housing was living in unsanitary, unsatisfactory or overcrowded conditions
Things you need to know

Social housing is provided by local authorities and private registered providers (mainly housing associations).

This data relates to new, permanent lettings of social housing. It excludes cases where a tenant starts a new tenancy agreement, but stays in the same property (after their previous agreement has ended).

The data only includes lettings where the tenant reported their ethnicity. This means that the figures published here may be different from other published figures on social housing.

There were 312,989 new social housing lettings in 2017/18. The ethnicity of the main tenant was known for 297,565 of these new lettings (95%), and refused or missing for 15,655 lettings (5%).

There may be some inaccuracy in the administrative data used to compile these statistics due to missing responses or reporting errors when the data was entered.

The raw data has been taken from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing (CORE) system. The statistics presented on this page have not been published separately by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

What the data measures

This data measures the number and percentage of new lettings in social housing given to vulnerable households. Local authorities must give ‘reasonable preference’ for social housing to certain households with a priority need for new accommodation.

The data is broken down by the ethnicity of the main tenant and priority need category of the household.

The priority need categories group vulnerable households according to whether:

  • they need to move to a particular location in the district of the housing authority, where failure to meet that need would cause hardship
  • they are homeless
  • the local authority has a duty to house them in settled accommodation because they are unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category
  • they're accepted as unintentionally homeless, not in priority need and provided with accommodation at the council’s discretion
  • they are in unsanitary or overcrowded housing, or otherwise living in unsatisfactory housing conditions
  • they need to move for medical reasons or for their well-being, including reasons relating to a disability

They have been grouped into 5 categories in the tables and charts:

  • hardship
  • homelessness
  • unsanitary/unsatisfactory housing
  • medical welfare
  • multiple (more than one need)

The information relates to households. A household is one person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence. If it is a group, they must share cooking facilities and also share a living room, sitting room or dining area.

The data uses the ethnicity of the main tenant. For a single tenancy, this is the named tenant.

For a joint tenancy, the main tenant is:

  • the economically active or working person
  • the oldest person, if both tenants are working or both are not working

These figures are drawn from the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing (CORE) system in 2017/18. CORE is a complete census of new social housing lettings, which records:

  • social housing lettings
  • affordable housing lettings
  • sales by private registered providers
The ethnic categories used in this data

This data uses the standardised ethnic groups based on the 2011 Census.


  • English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British
  • Irish
  • Gypsy, Traveller or Irish Traveller
  • Any other White background

Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:

  • White and Black Caribbean
  • White and Black African
  • White and Asian
  • Any other Mixed/Multiple ethnic background

Asian/Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Any other Asian background

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British:

  • Black African
  • Black Caribbean
  • Any other Black background

Other ethnic group:

  • Arab
  • Any other ethnic group

2. By ethnicity and type of priority need

Percentage and number of new lettings within each ethnic group by type of priority need
Hardship Homelessness Insanitary/Unsatisfactory Housing Medical Welfare Multiple
Ethnicity Hardship % Hardship Number Homelessness % Homelessness Number Insanitary/Unsatisfactory Housing % Insanitary/Unsatisfactory Housing Number Medical Welfare % Medical Welfare Number Multiple % Multiple Number
All 14.1 11,673 37.1 30,741 21.5 17,808 25.0 20,724 2.4 1,981
Asian 11.7 631 42.0 2,261 30.0 1,613 13.1 704 3.2 175
Bangladeshi 6.8 76 33.1 372 48.4 544 9.2 104 2.6 29
Chinese 17.4 20 41.7 48 26.1 30 9.6 11 5.2 6
Indian 15.5 80 41.9 216 21.5 111 18.8 97 2.3 12
Pakistani 12.9 172 47.0 628 23.4 312 14.4 193 2.3 31
Asian other 13.9 205 47.1 694 21.8 321 14.0 206 3.3 48
Black 12.5 868 40.5 2,808 28.7 1,987 12.5 866 5.9 407
Black African 13.0 417 45.8 1,467 26.8 858 10.0 322 4.4 140
Black Caribbean 14.8 244 38.9 643 23.9 396 18.1 300 4.3 71
Black other 10.6 89 38.4 322 32.8 275 12.5 105 5.6 47
Mixed 15.2 439 42.6 1,234 24.1 697 14.6 424 3.5 102
Mixed White/Asian 16.1 49 47.7 145 21.4 65 11.5 35 3.3 10
Mixed White/Black African 13.9 61 39.4 173 25.3 111 16.4 72 5.0 22
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 14.5 166 44.7 513 22.8 262 14.5 166 3.5 40
Mixed other 16.3 110 43.7 294 24.1 162 14.4 97 1.5 10
White 14.4 9,591 35.9 23,921 19.9 13,262 27.8 18,542 1.9 1,274
White British 14.3 8,277 36.2 20,882 19.4 11,212 28.4 16,383 1.6 952
White Irish 14.5 60 39.7 164 15.7 65 25.9 107 4.1 17
White Gypsy/Traveller .. .. 48.0 47 19.4 19 16.3 16 .. ..
White other 11.9 346 41.5 1,202 28.9 836 14.2 410 3.5 102
Other 12.9 145 46.1 518 22.1 248 16.7 187 2.1 24
Arab .. .. 48.8 202 23.9 99 15.0 62 .. ..
Any other 14.0 73 44.8 233 19.4 101 18.7 97 3.1 16

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of priority need’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of priority need’ (CSV)


This data shows that:

  • overall, 37.1% of vulnerable households were given priority due to homelessness, 25.0% for medical reasons, 21.5% due to living in unsanitary or unsatisfactory conditions, 14.1% for hardship, and 2.4% for more than one of these reasons

  • for all ethnic groups except the Bangladeshi group, homelessness was the most common reason for giving a vulnerable household priority for social housing

  • 48.8% of vulnerable Arab households were given priority because of homelessness, the highest percentage of any ethnic group

  • for vulnerable Bangladeshi households, the most common reason they were given priority was the need to move out of unsanitary, unsatisfactory or overcrowded conditions, which accounted for 48.4% of lettings

3. Methodology

The three main types of housing tenure in England are:

  • owner occupiers
  • private renters
  • social renters

This data refers to new lettings to social renters only. The data is based on the data collected from providers via the Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing in England (CORE) system. CORE initially only required private registered providers (PRPs) to submit social housing information, but their remit expanded in 2004 to include local authorities.

Some questions on the CORE questionnaire are not compulsory. In particular, data on household characteristics (age, sex, economic status, ethnicity and nationality) may not be available to the housing officer or may be refused by the tenant.

The totals for new lettings used in this data differs from other published totals for new lettings, as this data does not use estimated data for ethnicity and excludes those where ethnicity was refused. Information on lettings of social housing in England is provided by local authorities and private registered providers (previously known as housing associations).

Information about the tenancy, the tenants and the property is collected by data providers each time there is a new letting of a social housing property.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.

Data here has been weighted at the national level, but not at the regional or local authority area level. Weights are calculated for groups of similar local authorities, where these groups are defined by the Office of National Statistics UK area classifications, and they are based on the comparison with data from another Department for Communities and Local Government source on social housing data (Local Authority Housing Statistics).

For further information on weighting, see the Quality Report (PDF).

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of 1 or 2 have been suppressed, mainly to avoid possible risk of disclosure. This is consistent with the way the confidentiality of data within the Continuous Recording (CORE) system is maintained.

Disclosure control

The Continuous Recording (CORE) system records information anonymously and maintains absolute confidentiality on tenants’ circumstances. Access to record-level information is only available through a licence agreement.

Further information on CORE disclosure practices can be found on the CORE website.


Percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal place. Due to rounding, some totals may not add up to 100%.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The aim of Continuous Recording of Lettings and Sales in Social Housing in England (CORE) is to provide information about new social housing lettings, sales, tenants and buyers across England.

This information is used by government bodies and organisations to inform social housing funding, regulatory and housing policy decisions.

5. Download the data

Vulnerable households living in social housing - Spreadsheet (csv) 10 KB

This files contains the following: Measure, Time, Time_type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Reasonable Preference, Value, Numerator