Homelessness Reduction Act – Duty to Refer

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduced a new duty on specified public bodies in England to refer contenting people they believe to be homeless or threatened with homelessness to us (for example, it is likely they will become homeless within 56 days). The duty applies to a range of public bodies as listed below:

  • Social Services Authorities (Adults' and Children’s Social Care)    
  • NHS Services - A&E Services and Urgent Treatment Centres (Walk in Centre)    
  • NHS Services – Hospitals (when providing in-patient care)    
  • Job Centre Plus    
  • Prisons (Public and Private)
  • Probation Services (including Community Rehabilitation Companies)    
  • Youth offender institutions    
  • Youth Offending Teams
  • Secure Colleges and Training Centres    
  • The Secretary of State for Defence (in relation to members of Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Army (Regular) and Royal Air Force)

It is important that these organisations make these referrals to us so that we can prevent and relieve homelessness effectively.

The statutory duty came into effect on 1 October 2018.

How to make a referral

You can make a referral via the Housing Jigsaw Alert referral system. From the Alert referral portal you can make a referral to any housing authority in England. Please note making a referral does not trigger an emergency response from the Council.  
If you are referring someone who is already homeless please ring 024 7683 4025 for further advice. If you are calling out of hours this number will be diverted to the Emergency Duty Team. Our leaflet contains further information about support available for rough sleepers.  

If you are referring a person that is already homeless, whilst they have the right to be referred to any Local Housing Authority. It is preferable that they are referred to the local area where they have the strongest local connection (an area they have lived or worked previously or where they have close family members such as parents, siblings or adult children).

Before you start

Before making a referral, the referring public body must:

  • Have consent to the referral from the person(s) being referred
  • Allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like to be referred
  • Have consent that the person’s contact details can be given so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral

You will need

  • To create an account or log into the referral portal called Housing Jigsaw Alert. For this you need a valid organisational email address and create a password  
  • Details for the person or household being referred, including their preferred method of contact and where possible details about their current housing situation and/or support needs.
  • To confirm that you have consent to the referral from the person(s) being referred
  • You may wish to complete the referral with the person present or alternatively if that isn’t possible the referral forms allows you to only enter information that you have knowledge of, as it is recognised that some referring bodies will not necessarily have an ongoing relationship with the person and/or household

What happens after the referral has been submitted?

The Homelessness Prevention Service will contact the person(s) being referred to find out what information, advice and support can be provided and where required a formal homelessness application will be taken.
The person being referred will be allocated a Housing Officer who will carry out a housing assessment and develop a personal housing plan with the person. The aim to help them secure suitable accommodation for at least six months.
If it has not been possible to relive a person’s homelessness the team will determine whether person qualifies for the main housing duty and one suitable offer of long term housing.
The referring body (the officer making the referral) will be able to see via the referral portal whether the housing authority has responded to the referral. The referring body can also download the submitted referral and provide a copy to the person being referred.    

Where can I find further information? 

The Homelessness Prevention Service web pages have further information and advice for people who need may need housing advice or support from other agencies depending on their current situation. The Homelessness Prevention Team leaflet explains more about the legislation and how the service can help people.  

Can other organisations make referrals to the Homelessness Prevention Service? 

Yes, organisations who are not subject to the Duty to Refer Regulations can make referrals to Homelessness Prevention Service using the Alert referral portal.

Homelessness Prevention Service - Duty to refer

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 024 7683 4025

Customer Service Centre
Broadgate House

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