Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Greater responsibilities for councils to intervene earlier

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force in April 2018.  The Act gives councils greater responsibilities to intervene earlier in cases of homelessness, and provide services to all households to prevent homelessness. 

The main duties are:

Prevention Duty

We have a duty to take reasonable steps to help prevent homelessness, when an eligible household is threatened with homelessness, within the next 56 days. We'll assess the cause of homelessness, the household's needs and circumstances and will create a Personalised Housing Plan setting out reasonable steps for both the household and the Council to work towards removing the threat of homelessness. This could include help in resolving existing tenancy issues or finding suitable alternative accommodation. The Prevention Duty is in place for 56 days and the Personalised Housing Plan is reviewed regularly, working with the household, throughout this period. 

Relief Duty

Where we have been unable to prevent the threat of homelessness within the 56 day period, or when an eligible household becomes homeless, we have a duty to assist in relieving the homelessness. Again, we have a 56 day period in which to take reasonable steps to relieve the homelessness and will create a Personalised Housing Plan, or review the existing one, with the household. This will set out reasonable steps for both us and the household to find a suitable alternative placement.  

Duty to Refer

The Duty to Refer places responsibilities on specified public bodies to refer households, who may be homeless or threatened with homelessness, to council homelessness services.  

The following public authorities are subject to the Duty to Refer:

  • Prisons
  • Young offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • JobCentres in England
  • Social service authorities (Adults and Children)
  • 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

The duty aims to encourage strong working partnerships between organisations and enable earlier intervention in cases of homelessness. This improves the chances of achieving better outcomes through partnership working.

A countywide Duty to Refer Protocol is in place in Hampshire. 

Duty to Refer Protocol 

Referral Form 

Further information about the Duty to Refer 

Information from Shelter on the Duty to Refer