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Duty to refer

Public authorities have a duty to tell councils about anyone they think may be homeless

About the duty to refer

From 1 October 2018 a new duty was introduced by the Homelessness Reduction Act. The duty requires certain public authorities to notify us of anyone they think may be homeless, or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days.

Who has the duty to refer

The following are responsible for making referrals:

  • 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 (for example, walk in centres)
  • in-patient hospitals
  • social service authorities

Commitment to refer

Housing associations are not named on the list of public bodies bound by the duty to refer. But the Government has asked these organisations to sign up to the 'commitment to refer'. This is a voluntary commitment to refer an individual or household if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

We would encourage any organisations to make a referral if you're concerned about someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

How to refer

If you're part of an organisation, please download and complete the referral form.

The person you're referring can choose where they wish to be referred to. But it’s sensible to guide them towards the local council where they last had a settled home, unless there is a threat of violence in that district.

To complete the referral form you'll need the consent of the person you're referring, and as much of the following information about them as possible:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • household makeup
  • National Insurance number
  • address
  • contact details
  • basic information about why they are in housing need

Download our referral form

Please email your completed form to

What happens next?

We'll review all referrals and contact the client as soon as possible. If we’re satisfied that they're eligible for help, and are either homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, we'll accept a homelessness application from them. Otherwise, we'll provide as much advice and assistance as we can.