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Your Duty to Refer

Certain public bodies have a duty to refer anyone who they believe may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to the local housing authority of their choice, providing that person wants to be referred for assistance.

The law that created this duty is the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 S10.

Public bodies that have this duty to refer

The organisations that are responsible for making these referrals are:

A man reading through a checklist

  • Prisons and youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres and colleges
  • Youth offending teams and probation services
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • Urgent treatment centres (for example, Walk In Centres)
  • In-patient hospitals
  • Social service authorities
  • Ministry of Defence (for members of the regular armed forces)

People working in the organisations listed above may have information that leads them to believe that one of their clients is homeless or threatened with homelessness.

They should ask:

  1. "Have you already been referred to a local housing authority for assistance?" (there is no need to refer someone who has already been referred by another agency).
  2. "Do you give consent for me to refer you to a local housing authority for help with resolving your housing situation?" (Bear in mind that you will need to share information about the applicant with the housing authority).
  3. "Which local housing authority would you like me to refer you to?"

Which local housing authority is appropriate?

If you are being referred, you get to choose which local housing authority you would like to be referred to. The referrer will do their best to guide you towards the local council who are best equipped to resolve the situation. This will usually mean a local council in an area you have a strong connection. The exception would be if there is a threat of violence in that district.

For further guidance on local connections please contact us on 03450 450 051.

What if I have no local connection to South Cambridgeshire, but would like to be referred?

If you are threatened with being made homeless within the next 56 days, we will work with you to try and resolve the problem, so you can stay where you are living (if appropriate).

neighbourhood of people with houses and trees

If the you need to find somewhere different to live, we will explore a broad range of options. This can include both private rented housing and registering for social rent.

Please note that most councils will offer greater preference on their housing register for those who have a local connection. This includes us (South Cambridgeshire District Council).

If the person being referred is already homeless, we will investigate whether they have a local connection to South Cambridgeshire. Those who are homeless and without a local connection will be referred to the council area where they do have a connection (unless they have no connection anywhere).

How is a referral made?

Organisations that have consent to make a referral to South Cambridgeshire, and who feel it is appropriate to do so, can complete their referral through the Housing Assistance Referral Portal.A woman using a computer

To refer, you will need to give:

  • the person's basic details (name, date of birth, contact information, last known address)
  • why they are homeless or threatened with homelessness?
  • how you are supporting them?

Make a housing assistance referral

What will happen next?

All referrals will be reviewed and contact made with the applicant as soon as possible.

If we are satisfied that the applicant is eligible for help, and either threatened with homelessness within 56 days, or homeless now, a homeless application will be created. Otherwise, we will provide as much advice and assistance as we can.

If you think someone has nowhere to sleep tonight, email and ask the person to contact the Housing Advice Service as soon as possible.

There are many organisations ready to support young people who are leaving care, and who are seeking housing advice from us. Find out what help is available for you, ideas for finding somewhere to live, and advice for making a successful home of your own.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leaving Care Team

The County's Social Care team will help care leavers in Cambridgeshire to prepare for becoming an adult and developing your independence. You will be entitled to this support up to the age of 21 (or longer, if you are in full-time education), if you have been 'Looked After' for 13 weeks from the age of 14, and for at least a day following your 16th birthday. The Leaving Care Team is based at Scott House, 5 George Street, Huntingdon PE29 3AD, and can be reached on 01480 372463.

Staying Close, Staying Connected

Staying Close, Staying Connected is a project focused on supported young people leaving residential care in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The project provides Moving On Houses and work with care leavers up to the age of 25. They also offer help with training and employment opportunities. You can contact the team on 01603 670 100 or by emailing

Centre 33

All young people need support sometimes. Centre 33 is an advice service for anyone under 26 years old. They are located at 33 Clarendon Street, Cambridge, CB1 1JX and are open Monday to Wednesday 10am to 5pm, closed on Thursday, and open Friday to Saturday 10am to 1:30pm. Their Housing and Living Skills worker can be reached on 01223 316488.

The following organisations that specialise in helping young people may also be able to help you:

Centrepoint: 0808 800 0661

Coram Voice: 0808 800 5792

Depaul Nightstop UK: 0207 939 1235

Getting on the housing register (Home-Link)

Affordable housing is in very short supply in Cambridgeshire. However, we do accept applications onto the Home-Link scheme from anyone who is eligible, and who can demonstrate a local connection. If you are leaving the care of Cambridgeshire County Council, you will have a local connection to every local housing authority within Cambridgeshire, even if your care placement has been outside the Council’s boundaries. Cambridgeshire districts include Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and Fenland District Council.

Find out more from our apply for housing webpage.

Threatened with homelessness?

If you think you will be made homeless in the next 56 days, and you cannot find your own alternative accommodation (despite the help of the agencies mentioned above), you can approach any local authority in England, and ask for assistance. Provided you are eligible, the council will assess your needs, and draw up a plan to help you resolve your housing problem.

This plan will include the steps that you and the council will take to find a solution. This might involve, for example, ensuring you have approached all the right agencies in the right way, maximising benefits, or getting help with training or work.

The Single Homelessness Service helps single people with low support needs into shared houses

Already homeless?

If we are satisfied that you are eligible, and do not have accommodation anywhere that you have a right to occupy, and can gain access to, we will try to help you resolve your homelessness. As a care leaver, we would decide if you are more vulnerable than an ordinary person, and may decide you are in a priority need group as a result. If this is the case, we will provide you with temporary accommodation, while we try to help you find a more permanent solution.

Whether you are vulnerable or not, we will try to relieve your homelessness for a period of 56 days.

Threatened homelessness

You will be considered to be threatened with homelessness, if you have no accommodation that you have a right to return to (or cannot safely return to) on your release, if your release will occur within 56 days. This means you can approach any local authority in England, and make a homeless application. We will assess your needs, and draw up a Personal Housing Plan, to help you resolve your housing problem, perhaps using some of the options described below.

If you are now homeless

If we cannot prevent you becoming homeless, and you have nowhere to go now, a Housing Advisor will decide if you have a priority need. If there is a reason to believe you are in priority need, you will be provided with temporary accommodation while we make further enquiries into your situation. The Housing Advisor will consider whether you are more vulnerable than an ordinary person, and will take into account the effect on you of your imprisonment, in making this assessment. However, if we cannot establish a local connection with South Cambridgeshire, you may be referred to another local authority with which you do have a connection. The local connection rules can be found on the Council’s website. There are no prisons in South Cambridgeshire, but if you are detained within a local authority area, this will not give you a local connection to that area.

Whether South Cambridgeshire or another Council accepts a duty to relieve your homelessness, that Council will work through your Personal Housing Plan with you, and decide what housing is suitable. If nothing can be found within 56 days, the Council will go on to consider whether they owe a duty to offer accommodation. This duty will be owed if the Council decides you are in priority need, and are not homeless as a direct result of something you have deliberately done, or not done. In some circumstances, if you knew that your offending would result in the loss of your last settled home, you may be considered to be ‘intentionally homeless’. This means the Council would not have a duty to provide housing directly.

Hostels and Supported Housing

There is a hostel in Cambridge that locally-connected single homeless people can present to. It is called Jimmy’s, and is located at 1, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1BD.

Once you are a guest at Jimmy’s, you can be considered for ‘move-on’ supported accommodation.

Single Homeless Service

If you have very low support needs, and your primary issue is housing only, you may be eligible for the Single Homeless Service. This service links eligible single people to rooms in shared houses. You will need to undergo a detailed assessment for your suitability.

Getting on the housing register (Home-Link)

Many people struggle with raising a deposit for private rented accommodation. There are a couple of options for help: Change Grow Live administer loans for deposits for park homes. Homeless clients of the Street Outreach team can be considered for this service.

We might be able to assist by referring you to our Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Please speak to your Housing Advisor for further details.

Employment and Training

We know that your ability to find and keep somewhere to live will be affected, if you don’t have a job, or job prospects. We can refer you to New Horizons or CHS Group, for targeted help with getting you job-ready.

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