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Personalised housing plans: local authority steps

This content applies to England

The personalised housing plan (PHP) should identify steps which the local authority will take to prevent or relieve the applicant's homelessness.

The information on this page only applies to homelessness applications made on or after 3 April 2018.

Local authority discretion

Local authorities have considerable discretion over what steps they will include in applicants' personalised housing plans (PHPs). However, the Homelessness Code of Guidance gives some suggestions, some of which may assist any applicant, and some specific to particular groups.

Steps which a local authority might take for any applicant

Chapter 11 of the Code lists some possible reasonable steps which might be of help to a range of applicants:[1]

  • attempting mediation/conciliation in cases of family breakdown
  • assessing entitlement to discretionary housing payments where rent arrears exist
  • providing support, 'whether financial or otherwise' to assist an applicant in finding private rented accommodation. This could involve, for example, assisting with a rent deposit guarantee (see help with paying a deposit).

Exactly what the authority does to assist the applicant will depend on the particular case.[2]

Power to accommodate

A local authority has a power to provide accommodation to prevent or relieve homelessness.[3] Therefore, the authority may include providing accommodation in the applicant's PHP as a reasonable step that it will take.

The Code suggests that a local authority might use its power to provide accommodation for people from groups at a higher risk of homelessness. These include young people with low incomes and those who may have difficulty finding accommodation from private landlords, such as people with an offending history or a mental health issue.[4]

Steps for people who have suffered domestic abuse

The safety of the applicant should be the 'primary consideration' of a local authority, and a step will not be appropriate if it leaves the applicant at risk of continued abuse.[5]

The Code suggests the following as steps that a local authority might wish to take itself and include in an applicant's PHP:

  • providing assistance with a sanctuary scheme or other security measures, or help with accessing legal remedies to enable a person who has experienced domestic violence to remain in their home[6]
  • helping single applicants to access supported housing or to gain more support from family or friends.[7] This might involve the local authority making a referral to supported housing or contacting friends on behalf of the applicant. The Code suggests that local authorities should ensure that accommodation is available outside their district for this purpose[8]
  • referring victims at risk from 'highly dangerous perpetrators' to refuges.[9] Local authorities should develop links to refuges within their districts and in neighbouring districts to facilitate referrals[10]
  • considering evicting the perpetrator. If the applicant is a council tenant, the local authority's steps in the plan could be taking possession action and granting a new tenancy, for example[11]
  • providing details of specialist organisations and those offering counselling and support[12]
  • offering temporary accommodation while action is taken to exclude or arrest and detain a perpetrator.[13]

Steps for victims of modern slavery and trafficking

For information about modern slavery and trafficking, see help for ineligible adult migrants in England. A summary of forms of modern slavery is given in the Code.[14] Local authorities might want to consider:

  • immediately alerting children's services where there is a safeguarding concern [15]
  • making a referral to the National Referral Mechanism to assist with support from the Government.[16] See help for ineligible adult migrants in England for the types of help available.

Steps for people with an offending history

The kind of steps which could be taken by local authorities to assist include:[17]

  • using discretionary powers to provide accommodation (see above)
  • asking support providers for extra support where a person is at risk of homelessness
  • for people coming out of prison, contacting the offender's family to ask for accommodation in the short term.

Steps for rough sleepers

The Code suggests that local authorities might assist rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping by:

  • 'helping to secure or securing an immediate safe place to stay'.[18] This might include a hostel referral.
  • working with other agencies to prevent applicants from starting to sleep rough by use, for example, of 'housing first' models[19]
  • working with other agencies to make sure that rough sleepers are provided with appropriate accommodation and support, including support with issues such as drug and alcohol use[20]
  • using discretionary powers to provide accommodation (see above), taking into account the risk of harm faced by applicants.[21]

Steps for young people

The Code suggests the following steps to assist young people:

  • achieving agreement for a young family to stay in the parental home pending an offer of part 6 accommodation[22]
  • using discretionary powers to accommodate young people on low incomes.[23]

[1] para 11.23 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[2] para 11.19, para 12.8 and para 13.6 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[3] s.205(3) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.6 Homelessness Reduction Act 2018; para 15.34, 15.35 and 16.4 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[4] para 15.35 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[5] para 21.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[6] para 11.23, paras 21.27-21.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[7] para 21.27 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[8] para 2.73 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[9] para 21.36 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[10] para 16.40 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[11] para 21.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[12] para 21.30 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[13] para 21.35 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[14] para 25.3 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[15] para 25.6 and 25.14 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[16] para 25.8 and 25.16 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[17] para 15.35, para 23.12 and para 23.16 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[18] para 11.23 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[19] para 13.7 and para 2.68 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[20] 13.7 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[21] para 13.7 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[22] para 11.27 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

[23] para 15.35 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MCHLG, Feb 2018.

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