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Duty to Refer

Homelessness Reduction Act – Duty to Refer

What is the Duty to Refer?

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduces a new duty on specified public bodies in England to refer consenting people they believe to be homeless or threatened with homelessness to  a Councils Housing and Homeless Service (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 (Adult’s 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 Collages 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 1st 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. If you are unable to use the Housing Alert referral system, you can email your referral to .  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 01922 652250 for further advice. If you are calling out of hours please ring 01922 650000 (Emergency Duty Team).


Before you start

A referral does not replace a homelessness application. The referred person(s) will still need to make an application if they wish to seek our help. However, following a referral, the Housing Options Team will contact the person to begin enquiries and decide if an application should be taken.

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 service user’s contact details can be given so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral


You will need

  • 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 with a completed form of authorisation.


What happens after the referral has been submitted?

The Housing & Welfare Support 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.

If the referral is accepted, arrangements will be made with the person being referred to carry out a housing assessment and develop a personal housing plan. The aim is to help them secure suitable accommodation for at least six months.

If it has not been possible to prevent or relieve a person’s homelessness the team will determine whether person qualifies (has a priority need and are homeless through no fault of their own) for long term housing, where one suitable offer of housing is made.