Advice for agencies

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This page provides agencies and other professionals with information about the different ways the council can support people at risk of losing their home or struggling with homelessness, and further information regarding the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

Experiencing homelessness is a very stressful time for anyone. If you have customers who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, this page will help you navigate your way around the responsibilities under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 so that you can provide them with consistent messages and advice. If you are unclear on the information and your customers’ responsibilities, please contact the Homelessness Prevention Team on 0118 937 2165 before giving any advice. We have an email dedicated to advice for agencies, so you can email us at

Some statutory agencies have a duty to refer any instances of homelessness. Find more information on the duty to refer section below.

If you are a customer accessing this page and you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, please visit our homelessness page.

It is important to seek advice at the earliest opportunity, as this will increase the success of preventing homelessness.

On this page:

Your responsibilities as an agency

To support the Homelessness Prevention Team to continue to deliver relevant and timely services to your customers, it is your responsibility as an agency to:

  • ensure that any referral required into the service is done at the earliest opportunity (see duty to refer section below)
  • ensure that information or advice regarding homelessness provided to your customers is correct and relevant — providing misinformation to a customer can be confusing and lead to frustrations when expected services are unable to be delivered
  • seek advice and assistance to ensure that the correct advice is provided — there are many myths surrounding homelessness and housing and it is our job to ensure that customers are clear on what they can expect from us
  • refer customers to the correct channels to challenge decisions made by the Homelessness Prevention Teams

Our responsibilities

Homelessness Reduction Act

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 was the first major review of the homeless legislation and amended the Housing Act 1996, Part VII. It was implemented in April 2018.

The primary aim of the Act is to prevent homelessness, regardless of local connection, priority need, or intentionality of homelessness. The Act:

  • promotes a holistic approach to preventing the root cause of homelessness
  • empowers customers to take the necessary steps, with support if required, to prevent their own homelessness and to retain accommodation
  • places responsibilities on statutory agencies to refer any instances of homelessness, or those customers threatened with homelessness into the service at the earliest opportunity

There are three duties that apply to customers, depending on their circumstances. This video explains what those duties are, when they apply and when they will come to an end. This video also provides definitions to help you understand our terminology.

Watch time: 8 min

Threatened with homeless (prevention duty)

A customer is at risk of becoming homeless or threatened with homelessness 56 days prior to the date of an eviction notice. At this point, the prevention duty will apply.

Learn more about the prevention duty

Homeless (relief duty)

If a customer is already homeless, or becomes homeless following a prevention duty being accepted, the relief duty will apply.

Learn more about the relief duty.

Final homeless decisions (main duty)

There are several decisions which can be made following a homelessness assessment, this section sets out what decisions can be made and why.

Learn more about the main duty.

Duty to refer

Public agencies are required to notify a housing authority of customers they consider to be homeless or at risk of homelessness within 56 days.

Learn more about the duty to refer.

We can only assist those who are eligible to access services as a result of their immigration status. We will refer a customer for more support if we think they are vulnerable but not eligible. We are not obligated to offer accommodation to ineligible households or individuals. No other legislation override this decision.

Requesting training for your team

If you would like your teams or any individuals to receive further information, the Homelessness Prevention Team is happy to make arrangements to discuss this with you in more detail. This could range from attending a team meeting, an individual conversation, or more formal training. Regardless of how you would like this information to be delivered, please complete our online form and we will be in touch to arrange this.

Support for people sleeping rough

Support for people sleeping rough in Reading is available through:

  • visiting StreetLink – which is promoted by St Mungo’s and you can alert them to a sleeping site
  • contacting the Homelessness Prevention Team using the methods given below
  • Street Support Reading Information Portal provides useful information on where to find food, support, advice, and accommodation. It is for people who are experiencing homelessness right now or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Getting in touch and further advice

There are different ways you can contact the Homeless Prevention Service:

Reaching out online

You can contact us online by filling in an online form.

Sending an email

Contact us by sending an email to

Calling our phone

Call us on 0118 937 2165. Please note our phone lines are very busy. If you leave a message, we will get back to you within 1 working day (unless it is an emergency).

Visiting our offices

If you don’t have access to a phone or email or if you need a safe space, you can attend the Civic Offices from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, or from 10:30am on a Wednesday.

If you have an emergency out-of-hours, call us on 01344 351 999 (5pm to 9am on weekdays and over weekends).

Last updated on 03/06/2024