Housing advice

Duty to refer

What is the duty to refer?

On 1st October 2018, the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) will introduce a new requirement for specified public bodies, meaning they will have a statutory duty to refer any services they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to the local authority.

Which public bodies have the duty to refer?

  • Prisons 
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres
  • Secure colleges
  • Youth offending teams
  • Probation services  (including community rehabilitation companies);
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Social Services
  • Hospital emergency departments
  • Urgent treatment centres 
  • Hospitals in their capacity of providing in-patient treatment 

How do I make a referral?

If you think a service user may be homeless or threatened with homelessness you can make a referral online to Encompass or another participating local authority using the ALERT Referal system. The first time you use it you will be required to create an account, after which you can log in at any time make a new referral or check the status of an existing one.


The URL for ALERT is https://live.housingjigsaw.co.uk/alert/duty-to-refer


I do not work for one of the listed organisations - can I still make a referral?

Yes, Encompass will accept referrals from any organisation. Simply register with ALERT and make your referral.


What information do I have to include?

As a minimum, you will need to provide the client's name, contact details and the reason you are making the referral, but the more information you can include the better. If you have any supporting documents such as the client's ID or medical information, this can be emailed to dutytorefer@encompass-latc.co.uk.

Where can I find further information about the Homelessness Reduction Act and the Duty to Refer?

You can find out more in the Homelessness Code of Guidance (the Duty to Refer is explained in Chapter 4).