Homelessness Reduction Act: The Duty to Refer


To make a referral please use Public bodies homelessness referral form


From 1 October 2018 the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduced a duty on specified public authorities to identify and refer service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to local authority homelessness/housing options teams. The specified public authorities subject to the Duty to Refer are:

  • Prisons
  • Young offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Social service authorities
  • Emergency departments
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care

Please Note: If you work for a public authority which is not subject to the duty you can still make a referral.

A person is considered homeless if:

  • they do not have any accommodation which is available for them  which they have a legal right to occupy; or
  • it is not reasonable for them to occupy their current accommodation, for example because they would be at risk of domestic abuse
  • they are likely to become homeless within 56 days, or have been served with a valid notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 by their landlord which expires within 56 days.

Process for referrals

Milton Keynes council has an online "Public bodies homelessness referral form", based on the minimum information required by law for a public authority to make a legitimate referral; this is individuals names, contact details and agreed reason for referral.


GOV.UK information about the Duty to Refer 

The GOV.UK website contains detailed information and guidance:

Last Updated: 30 March 2020