Applicant steps in personalised housing plans

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

This content applies to England

Applicant steps in a personalised housing plan

in addition to those steps to be taken by the local authority, the authority may include in an applicant's personalised housing plan (PHP) steps for the applicant to take that are mandatory and/or 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]

Mandatory steps in a PHP

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 their 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 in a PHP

Recommended steps are those which a local authority 'considers advisable' or a good idea for the applicant to take but does not require them 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 their 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]

Applicant failure to complete a PHP step

An applicant who fails to complete a step in their PHP could be classed as 'deliberately and unreasonably failing to cooperate'.[11]

If a local authority suggests a mandatory step that the applicant thinks is unreasonable, it is important that they discuss this with the authority.

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]

Applications made on or after 3 April 2018

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

Last updated: 17 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [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.