Safeguarding Those at Risk of Homelessness

Organisations have had a duty to help those at risk of becoming homeless and refer them to a housing authority since April 2018.

Prisons, probation services, Job Centres and NHS Trusts are among the organisations that have a duty to help those at risk of becoming homeless and refer them to a housing authority.

The public authorities which are subject to the duty to refer are specified in the Homelessness (Review Procedure etc.) Regulations 2018. The public services included in the duty are as follows:

  • prisons
  • youth offender institutions
  • secure training centres
  • secure colleges
  • youth offending teams
  • probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Job Centre Plus
  • social service authorities
  • emergency departments
  • urgent treatment centres
  • hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care.

In new guidance published in 2018, the government has outlined how councils and public bodies must support the homeless or those at risk of losing their home under their new duties introduced by the Homelessness Reduction Act. The Act  places new legal duties on English councils to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent homelessness.

Councils will now be required to ensure the advice and information they provide is designed to meet the needs of particular at risk groups including care leavers, people leaving prison, people who have left the armed forces, survivors of domestic abuse and those suffering from a mental illness.

In addition to new duties to refer those at risk of homelessness, the reforms will include:

  • providing free information and advice on preventing homelessness and the rights of homeless people, to all residents, including information tailored to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups
  • a new duty for those who are already homeless so that that local authorities will work with them for 56 days to help secure accommodation.