Homelessness Reduction Act – Duty to Refer
The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came in to force on the 3rd April 2018. The Act introduced a duty on specified public authorities to refer service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, to the local authority housing options service.
List of public authorities
This duty is effective from 1 October 2018 and will apply to the following list of public bodies:
- young offender institutions
- secure training centres
- secure colleges
- youth offending teams
- probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
- Jobcentre’s in England
- social service authorities (both adult and children’s)
- emergency departments
- urgent treatment centres
- hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care
- Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces
Public authorities must consider the following before making a referral:
(a) They must have consent from the individual to make the referral;
(b) They must allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to;
(c) They must have consent from the individual that their contact details can be supplied so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral.
If a service user is threatened with homelessness but outside of the 56 day period, we would still welcome a referral. The earlier we are made aware of a potential homelessness situation, the earlier we can intervene and work towards preventing homelessness.
Winchester City Council will also welcome referrals through this route from any agency or organisation working with service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness, even if the agency or organisation does not fit within the list of specified public bodies outlined below.
Hampshire Homelessness Referral protocol
All Hampshire Authorities have signed up to a joint Hampshire Homelessness Referral protocol. The protocol sets out how the local authorities and public bodies operating in Hampshire will operate when dealing with making and receiving referrals for those service users who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The referral protocol can be found here (pdf, 6.4mb).
The accompanying Hampshire Homelessness referral form (doc, 103kb) can be found here.
If you have a service user who is homeless or is threatened with homelessness within 56 days, and who has chosen to be referred to Winchester City Council, please complete the referral form, with consent of the individual and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
An acknowledgement email will be sent and a further response will be provided within 3 working days. In urgent cases (where homelessness is imminent within two days) the email of the referral form should be followed up by a telephone call to the housing options duty service on 01962 848 163.
Guidance published 21 September 2018