Public Bodies: Duty to Refer

Are you a professional with a service user who is homeless or threatened with homelessness?

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 has placed a number of new duties on local housing authorities when responding to households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

This Act also introduced a new statutory duty on a wide range of public sector bodies. These public bodies are now  required to:

  • Notify a local housing authority about service users whom they think are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

  • Obtain consent from the service users before referring them, allowing them to choose which local housing authority they are referred to 


Public Sector Bodies under a Duty to Refer

The following public sector bodies are under a statutory duty to refer:

  • Prisons

  • Young Offender Institutions

  • Secure Training Centres

  • Secure Colleges

  • Youth Offending Teams

  • Probation Services (including Community Rehabilitation Companies)

  • Jobcentres

  • Adult & Children Social Services Authorities

  • Hospital Emergency Departments

  • Urgent Treatment Centres

  • Hospitals providing Inpatient Care

  • Secretary of State for Defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

How to Refer a Service User

You are able to make a 'Duty to Refer' referral to any local housing authority using the Housing Jigsaw system through the 'Alert' communications and referrals portal:



When making a referral, you will be asked to provide the following information about the service user:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Household composition

  • Contact details

  • Overview of current housing circumstances

  • Any other relevant information, for example, the support your organisation is providing


Please note, by accepting the referral, the local housing authority is not accepting a duty to the service user. This referral will allow the Housing Options team to make contact with the service user to provide advice and assistance, and to establish if any duty is owed to them under Housing Act 1996 as amended.