Documents to download

The duties local authorities owe to homeless people in England are contained in Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended).  The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) has, since 3 April 2018, placed a duty on authorities in England to:

  • Work to prevent homelessness for all eligible applicants who are threatened with homelessness, i.e. likely to become homeless within 56 days.
  • Work to relieve homelessness for all

Authorities only have an absolute duty to secure accommodation for households who are deemed to be unintentionally homeless and in priority need. If an applicant has become homeless unintentionally, the authority must assess whether they, or a member of their household, falls into a ‘priority need’ category.

These priority need categories are set out in section 189 of the 1996 Act and include, among others “People who are vulnerable because they are fleeing violence”.

Some organisations, including the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness (APPGEH), have criticised the requirement for victims of domestic abuse to be ‘vulnerable’ before being deemed in priority need. In its report, A Safe Home, the APPGEH proposed amending the draft Domestic Abuse Bill (which is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny) to, in turn, amend the Housing Act 1996, removing the vulnerability requirement. 

Documents to download

Related posts

  • This briefing paper provides statistics on statutory homelessness in England and explains local authorities' duties to assist homeless households. The paper includes an overview of, and comment on, Government policy in this area. The most recent statistical release covers the period between January and March 2020.

  • The Troubled Families Programme (TFP) is a programme in England administered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The programme conducts targeted interventions for families experiencing multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse. This briefing examines the TFP since 2012, details MHCLG evaluations of the programme, and describes recent commentary and potential future directions for the programme.