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Duty to refer

From 1st October 2018 specified public bodies are required to notify a housing authority of service users they consider may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days (i.e. it is likely they will become homeless within 56 days).

Before making a referral, the public service must:

  • have consent to the referral from the individual
  • allow the individual to identify the local housing authority which they would like the notification to be made to
  • have consent to share contact details

The following services are required to refer service users they consider may be homeless or at risk:

  • Prisons (public and private)
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (community rehabilitation companies and national probation service)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals in their capacity of providing in-patient care
  • Social service authorities
  • The Secretary of State for Defence is also subject to the duty to refer in relation to members of the regular forces. The regular forces are the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the regular army and the Royal Air Force.

Many people come into contact with a range of public services before reaching a homelessness crisis or approaching a local housing authority for advice. The duty to refer is intended to help people get access to homelessness services as soon as possible so their homelessness can be prevented or relieved in a timely manner.

Other services, not listed above, are also encouraged to refer to help people get access to homelessness services as soon as possible.

The duty allows service users to choose which local housing authority they are referred to. However, when discussing the referral and offering guidance to the service user, it is important to be aware that local housing authorities owe more duties towards homeless applicants who have a local connection with their area.

If a person asks to be referred to an area they do not have a local connection to, the local housing authority might subsequently refer them on to another local housing authority to which they do have a local connection.

If you have already contacted us and reported a homeless situation please use the following email addresses to get in touch