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Partnership Working and Duty to Refer

Everyone has a role to play in preventing homelessness and the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 provides an opportunity to work more closely with partners and co-produce an approach to homelessness prevention. It's crucial that stakeholders understand the importance of their role in identifying people at risk of homelessness at an early stage, referring them to our Housing Options Team under (section 213B), and then working collaboratively to help the person resolve their homelessness in a sustainable way.

What is the duty to refer?

From the 1 October 2018, under the Homeless Reduction Act, public bodies have a duty to refer households who may be homeless or at risk of homelessness to their local authority Housing Options Team, where they have consent from the individual concerned to do so.

We encourage all partner agencies to use the referral portal. If you work for a partner agency, you can register and then refer to our Housing Options Team via Housing Jigsaw ALERT.

The Housing Options Team will work closely with the named public bodies to implement the Duty to Refer.

The agencies that will have this duty are:

  • Prisons*
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Social service authorities
  • Emergency departments
  • Urgent treatment centres
  • Hospitals in their function of providing inpatient care

*(If you're referring from Prison, then it's important you facilitate a means whereby we're able to contact the individual you're referring).

The Secretary of State for Defence is also subject to the duty to refer in relation to members of the regular forces. The regular forces are the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the regular army and the Royal Air Force.

What to do next?

Before making a referral please ensure the following:-

  • You have consent to make a referral from the individual that you're working with (we can only accept a referral if consent has been given).
  • Allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to, and;
  • have consent from the individual that their contact details can be supplied so the housing authority can only be referred to housing authorities in England.

We encourage all public bodies and partner agencies to use the free ALERT referral portal. You can register and then refer to our Housing Options Team via Housing Jigsaw ALERT.

You can visit the FAQ's page for assistance with Housing Jigsaw ALERT.


If you have any queries regarding this portal, please contact our Housing Options Team via 01884 255255, or email, or via our contact us.

If public bodies cannot access the portal please send an email with details of the person and circumstances to

We'll endeavour to respond to referrals received within 3 working days.

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