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Homelessness strategies

This content applies to England

A local authority's duties to carry out a homelessness review and publish a homelessness strategy.

Local authority duties 

Every local authority must:[1]

  • carry out a homelessness review
  • formulate and publish a homelessness strategy based on that review

Social services must give such assistance as is reasonably required.[2] Both the housing authority and the social services authority must take the homelessness strategy into account when carrying out their functions.[3]

All authorities are required to publish homelessness strategies at least once every five years. Local authorities classified as excellent were exempt from this requirement before 1 April 2017.[4]

Local authorities must periodically assess the accommodation needs of people in their area. This includes those with a need for caravan sites or mooring for houseboats.[5]

Homelessness review

The homelessness review is an assessment by the local housing authority of the levels and future levels of homelessness in its district. They must also assess activities which are carried out to:[6]

  • prevent homelessness
  • ensure accommodation is available for people who are or may become homeless
  • provide support for people who are or may become homeless, or who need support to prevent them becoming homeless again

The review needs to take account of the resources available to the local housing authority, the local social services authority, other public authorities, voluntary organisations and any other people who carry out or contribute to these activities.

Once the review is completed, the results must be made available for public inspection without charge, and copies made available on payment of a reasonable charge.

Homelessness strategy

The homelessness strategy is a strategy for:[7]

  • preventing homelessness
  • securing that sufficient accommodation (of a range of types) is available for people who are or may become homeless
  • providing satisfactory support for people who are or may become homeless, or who need support to prevent them becoming homeless again

The strategy must consider how the local housing authority and social services authority, any other public authority, voluntary organisation or anyone else can meet the objectives of the strategy. It may include specific actions or objectives to be undertaken by the local housing and social services authority, or, with its agreement, by any other public authority, voluntary organisation or anyone else.

The authority must consider the needs of all groups of people in its area who may be affected by homelessness, including Gypsies and Travellers.

The local housing authority must keep the strategy under review. Before adopting or modifying the strategy the local housing authority must consult any public or voluntary organisations or other persons, as it considers appropriate. Further, when formulating or modifying its strategy the authority must have regard to:[8]

Authorities should take into account the prevention and relief duties brought in by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.[9] An authority should attempt to understand the causes of homelessness in its district, and establish links with service providers who have early contact with people at risk of becoming homeless, as well with those who provide accommodation and/or support.[10]

Once the strategy is completed, it must be made available for public inspection without charge, and copies made available on payment of a reasonable charge.

[1] ss.1-4 Homelessness Act 2002.

[2] s.1(2) Homelessness Act 2002.

[3] ss.1(5) & 1(6) Homelessness Act 2002.

[4] Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 revoking Local Authorities' Plans and Strategies (Disapplication) (England) Order 2005 SI 2005/157.

[5]s.8 Housing Act 1985 as amended by s.124 Housing and Planning Act 2016.

[6] s.2 Homelessness Act 2002.

[7] s.3 Homelessness Act 2002.

[8] s.3(7A) Homelessness Act 2002 as inserted by s.153 Localism Act 2011.

[9] para 2.4 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[10] paras 2.27 and 2.28 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

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