Commitment to Refer

Sign up to show your organisation’s commitment to ending homelessness through our Commitment to Refer.

What is the Commitment to Refer?

As part of the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017), public bodies are bound by the Duty to Refer. This is an obligation to refer anyone to a local authority if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness. 

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Despite not being included in this, many housing associations are keen to support the act. To help members to do this, we worked with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH) to develop a housing association offer on the Duty to Refer. We have called this the Commitment to Refer.

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive with over 200 of our members (representing nearly 80% of homes owned by members) already signed up, proving once again that homelessness is an issue housing associations care about.

In a survey in 2019 we found that the housing associations who signed up had either a positive (65%) or neutral (26%) experience of implementing the Commitment. Nearly half of the survey respondents (46%) could identify specific instances where a referral under the Commitment to Refer had prevented a person’s homelessness.

Because of these positive results, we will continue to promote the Commitment to Refer and support housing associations to develop closer links with local authorities where possible.

Government support for the Commitment to Refer

In its 2020 Review of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the government committed to working with the NHF to promote the Commitment to Refer. DLUHC have encouraged their Homelessness Advice and Support Team (HAST) advisors to make the local authority homelessness teams they advise aware of the Commitment.

Find out more about the Homelessness Reduction Act

How can I sign up?

We want every housing association to sign up to the Commitment to Refer.

We know that in many cases housing associations are already referring those at risk of homelessness, and put in place tenancy sustainment support to prevent homelessness, so this is about making a positive, public statement that shows housing associations are serious about ending homelessness.

Sign up to the Commitment to Refer

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If you’ve already signed up, make sure you take a look at the guidance on the Commitment to Refer we’ve prepared, as it details how to implement the commitment you’ve agreed to.

We are also keen to show how the Commitment to Refer works in practice, and is an important part in helping hous vulnerable people. We’d be grateful if you could share examples of your experiences so that these can inform and inspire others. Please send your examples to our team. 

Who’s already signed up?

Over 200 housing associations have already signed up.

Housing associations’ commitment to preventing homelessness

by Suzannah Young, Policy Officer at the National Housing Federation

Four reasons why we've signed to the Commitment to Refer

by Ian Martin, Executive Director of Operations at Estuary Housing Association

Working in partnership with local authorities

From Homes for Cathy to Housing First, find out more about the homelessness work and groups you can work alongside and steering groups you can join

Review of Homelessness Reduction Act

See this resource about the government response to submissions to its call for evidence on the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Masterclass video

In 2021, we ran a masterclass with NHF members on the Commitment to Refer and homelessness prevention work in partnership with local authorities. We heard from members who have been implementing the Commitment to Refer on why it’s important and what successes they have had in preventing homelessness. They give an overview of homelessness prevention projects in cooperation with local authorities. This video is available for members to watch below.

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Who to speak to

Dylan Hemmings