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Homelessness and the Homelessness Reduction Act

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force in England on the 3rd April this year. This is the biggest change to the rights of homeless people in England for 15 years.

We’ve produced some new information which sets out how the Act will work in practice.

The new law puts an obligation on prisons, youth offending teams and probation services (both Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service) to refer people, (with their consent), to a local authority who they have a location connection with, if they are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This duty came into force on 1st October 2018.

As the ‘duty to refer’ is very new, we’re not sure how public authorities will do this. However, once it’s been established that you’re homeless or at risk of homelessness, then prisons, probation etc must refer you to a housing authority under section 213B of the Homelessness Reduction Act. You should ensure that if you’re in this position that you get help from the prison or probation. Don’t let them tell you that ‘it’s not their job’ or they ‘can’t deal with it’.

Whilst the new law is certainly a step in the right direction, we don’t believe that it contains enough detail or guidance to local authorities, especially around what happens to people leaving prison who have no local connection.

If you’ve identified yourself as homeless or at risk of homelessness and don’t feel that you’ve been adequately dealt with by the prison or probation, we’d like to hear from you. Please send details of your case to



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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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