This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Personalised housing plans: applicant steps

This content applies to England

The personalised housing plan (PHP) should set out the steps which the applicant will take in order to prevent or relieve her/his homelessness. 

These steps are in addition to those to be taken by the local authority.

This page only applies to homelessness applications made on or after 3 April 2018.

Overview

Local authorities may include in an applicant's personalised housing plan (PHP) steps for the applicant to take that are:

  • mandatory
  • recommended.

Local authorities must try to agree mandatory steps with the applicant. If a step cannot be agreed with the applicant, it cannot be recorded in the PHP unless it is reasonable.[1] See Devising personalised housing plans for more detail.

Mandatory steps

Mandatory steps are those which the applicant is required to take.[2]

The Homelessness Code of Guidance recommends that mandatory steps 'should be limited to those which the housing authority considers are required in order to prevent or relieve homelessness'. [3]

Examples of mandatory steps

The Code gives little guidance on what form mandatory steps might take although it implies that they may include looking for accommodation.[4] It may be reasonable to require an applicant to look for accommodation outside her/his preferred area where there is 'little prospect of finding accommodation there that they can afford'.[5]

The Code also implies that applicants could be required to engage with other services in order to make finding accommodation more likely. However, it would not be reasonable to require an applicant to engage with a service that does not exist in their current district.[6]

Recommended steps

Recommended steps are those which a local authority 'considers advisable' or a good idea for the applicant to take but does not require her/him to take.[7] Recommended steps can also be included in the plan.[8]

In contrast to the narrow focus of mandatory steps recommended steps have a much broader purpose of, for example, allowing the applicant to address wider needs or increase her/his housing options in the future.[9]

The Code suggests that the local authority might be able to provide or refer the applicant to a range of advice and support services including employment support.[10]

Failing to complete a step in the PHP

An applicant who fails to complete a step in her/his PHP could be classed as 'deliberately and unreasonably failing to cooperate'.[11] Therefore, if a local authority suggests a mandatory step that the applicant thinks is unreasonable, it is important that s/he discusses this with the authority. See Devising personalised housing plans.

If an applicant does not take a recommended step s/he cannot be found to have deliberately and unreasonably failed to cooperate with the authority.[12]

[1] s.189A(4)(a) and s.189A(6) Housing Act 1996, as inserted by s.3(1) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[2] para 11.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[3] para 11.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[4] para 11.20, para 16.4 and para 16.16 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[5] para 11.20 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[6] para 11.22 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[7] para 11.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[8] s.189A(7) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.3(1) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[9] para 11.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[10] para 11.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[11] s.193B(2) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.7(1) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[12] s.189B(2) states that the refusal must have been to take a step under s.189A(4) or 189(6)(b) - both of which are required steps.

Back to top