West Berkshire Council

Homelessness advice and support

Advice, help and prevention options if you're at risk of becoming homeless

The Homelessness Reduction Act came in to force on 3 April 2018. This has changed the way in which councils deal with homeless households following the introduction of a number of new duties which means councils have a duty to:

  • Provide advice and assistance to all households and 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, irrespective of their priority need status, as long as they are eligible for assistance.
  • Carry out prevention and relief 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 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. The main housing duty is owed to those who remain homeless after the relief duty, are in priority need and have not made themselves intentionally homeless. 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 e-mail on housing@westberks.gov.uk 

Personal Housing Plan

Following a full housing assessment, you will be provided with a Personalised Housing Plan (PHP) detailing the agreed steps 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.

The Government has produced a number of factsheets to explain the new legislation, which can be found here:

Homelessness Reduction Bill

Duty to Refer

The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) 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:

a)    They must have consent from the individual to make the referral.

b)    They must allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like the notification to be made to.

c)    They must have consent form the individual that their contact details can be supplied so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral.

West Berkshire Council will also welcome referrals through this route 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.

Who To Contact