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 dutytorefer@scambs.gov.uk and ask the person to contact the Housing Advice Service as soon as possible.

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