Support if you're at risk of becoming homeless and need housing assistance
If you are at risk of becoming homeless, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to arrange an appointment.
If you are homeless today, or your enquiry is urgent, you can speak to an officer by calling 01635 519 530 and choosing option 2. Our hours of service are: Monday to Thursday - 8.30am to 5pm, Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm.
If you have been made homeless outside of these hours, please call the emergency duty team on 01344 351 999.
Who is Deemed Homeless or Threatened with Homelessness?
There are many situations which could mean you are considered to be homeless or threatened with homelessness, including:
- You are at risk of losing your home - this could be through the form of a notice from your landlord if you are renting
- You are staying with friends, or 'sofa surfing', and they have asked you to leave
- You are at risk of violence or abuse where you are living - this can be from a partner, ex-partner, family member or somebody else.
Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence or confined to instances within the home. Domestic abuse is any incident or a pattern of incidents of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (which includes physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional abuse)
- You are street homeless or rough sleeping
- You cannot afford to stay where you are
- Your relationship has broken down with your partner or close family member and you cannot continue to live there
- You have nowhere to put your houseboat or caravan
We can try to assist you in a variety of ways, including referrals to other support agencies, assistance with finances, advice on tenancy matters, negotiation and advocacy.
We will provide housing advice to everyone that needs it, but we focus our assistance on those who are eligible for housing assistance.
Personal Housing Plan
Following a full housing assessment, you will be provided with a Personalised Housing Plan (PHP). This plan will include the agreed steps that we will take to assist you in preventing your homelessness, as well as the reasonable steps that you will take to try to prevent yourself from becoming homeless.
The PHP is regularly reviewed to track progress and ensure all housing operations are being considered.
If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen sleeping rough in England or Wales, you can report this via the Street Link website. The details you provide are sent to the local authority or outreach service for the area in which you have seen the person, to help them find the individual and connect them to support.
You can also contact Street Link by phone on: 0300 500 0914.
Please note: if you think the person you are concerned about is under 18, please do not contact Street Link but instead call the Police.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
The Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) came in to force on 3 April 2018. There are now three elements to a homelessness application:
- Prevention Duty.
This duty is triggered if the Council are satisfied that you are eligible for housing assistance and threatened with homelessness within 56 days.
- Relief Duty.
This duty is triggered if the Council is satisfied that you are eligible for housing assistance and you are homeless, lasting for 56 days.
- Main Housing Duty.
If you remain homeless after the relief duty has ended, the Council will need to make a decision as to whether it owes you a duty to provide accommodation until you are rehoused. The assessment for this duty will consider whether you are vulnerable and in 'priority need', are not intentionally homeless, and whether you have a local connection to the area.
Councils have a duty to:
- Provide advice and assistance to all households, carry out work which aims to prevent homelessness and provide support to enable customers to remain in their current home.
- Offer everyone who is homeless, or at risk of homelessness, access to meaningful help, as long as they are eligible for housing assistance.
- Carry out prevention work for anyone threatened with homelessness within 56 days.
Even if you are not threatened with homelessness within 56 days, we urge you to contact us at the earliest opportunity. Under the Homelessness Reduction Act, there is a requirement for customers to co-operate with the steps and efforts the Council is taking to prevent and relieve homelessness.
- The Council will assess whether or not a main housing duty is owed at the end of the relief duty.
If a main duty is owed, the Council will be under a duty to source suitable alternative accommodation. Any offer of accommodation is likely to be in the private rented sector, due to the high demand for social housing in West Berkshire.
You can approach the service to receive further advice and information about your housing situation by contacting the Housing Operations Team on 01635 519 530 and choose option 2. Alternatively, you contact us by email at email@example.com.
The Government has produced a number of factsheets to explain the new legislation. You can read the Homelessness Reduction Act factsheets on the GOV.UK website.
Duty to Refer
The Homelessness Reduction Act introduced a duty on specified public authorities to refer service users who they think may be homeless, or threatened with homelessness, within 56 days, to the local authority housing operations service.
The following public bodies have a statutory duty to refer anyone they are working with who is facing homelessness:
- Prisons (public and contracted-out)
- Youth offender institutions and youth offending teams
- Secure training centres (public and contracted-out) and colleges
- Youth offending teams
- Probation services (community rehabilitation companies and national probation service)
- Jobcentre Plus
- Emergency departments
- Urgent treatment centres, and hospitals in their capacity of providing in-patient treatment
- Social service authorities (both adult and children's)
- Secretary of State for defence in relation to members of the regular armed forces
Public authorities must consider the following before making a referral:
- They must have consent from the individual to make the referral
- They must allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to
- They must have consent from the individual that their contact details can be supplied to the housing authority, so that they can contact them regarding the referral
West Berkshire Council will also welcome referrals from any agency or organisation working with service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness, even if they are not included in the specified public bodies outlined above.
To make a referral, please use the Duty to Refer ALERT tool, here, or email Dutytorefer@westberks.gov.uk.