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Check whether to refer someone to a local authority

Find out if a public organisation has a duty to refer someone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness to a local authority.

What is the duty to refer?

Some public organisations have a duty to refer a person they work with who they think might be homeless or threatened with homelessness to a local housing authority. The person must give consent, and can choose which authority to be referred to.

Who needs to make a referral?

Public organisations that have a duty to make a referral are:

  • social services

  • jobcentre plus

  • prisons and probation services

  • secure training centres and colleges

  • youth offender institutions and youth offending teams

  • accident and emergency services provided in a hospital

  • urgent treatment centres, and hospitals when providing in-patient treatment

  • the Ministry of Defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces

Someone working for another public organisation can still make a referral.

How to make a referral

Many local authorities have their own form or process for accepting referrals. This information should be available on their website.

Your organisation might have a process for making a referral to a particular local authority.

GOV.UK has a list of local authority email addresses for making a referral.

There is a standard form you can use to make the referral if the local authority does not have its own.

Check if a person is legally homeless or threatened with homelessness

Use our interactive tool to find out:

  • if someone is legally homeless or threatened with homelessness

  • what the local authority must do on receiving a referral or a homeless application

The tool takes about two minutes to complete. Answers are for guidance only and assume that the person in need of help has no suitable alternative accommodation elsewhere.

This content applies to England

The person who needs help

Last updated: 10 November 2022