A partnership of 25 housing providers in Greater Manchester has become the first to volunteer to abide by a duty to refer that was established by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
The Act introduced a statutory duty on certain public authorities in England to notify local housing authorities of service users they think may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless within 56 days.
Currently, that includes prisons, job centres and hospitals, but the duty was not imposed on housing providers.
But the 25 members of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) have signed up to the voluntary duty to refer.
After writing letters to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett, GMHP members outlined their commitment to supporting local authorities to reduce homelessness by signing up to the Voluntary Duty to Refer and calling for other housing providers to do the same.
“One of the key Mayoral priorities is how we can work together to reduce homelessness,” said Jon Lord, GMHP’s chair. “As a collaborative group of housing providers, GMHP members already work very closely with their local authorities and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to tackle homelessness, so it seemed a natural step to formalise this commitment and demonstrate how seriously we take this issue.
“As the nights become colder, the injustices of sleeping rough become even more apparent and we would encourage all housing providers to sign up to the voluntary duty to refer.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This is a great example of our partners working together to tackle homelessness. We know that our region’s housing providers are critical to this and it’s truly fantastic that they have adopted this approach, which is leading the way nationally.
“It will help to prevent homelessness but where we can’t do that, it will enable our councils to tackle the problem at an early stage. We need everyone to pull together and our housing providers are doing their bit to help.”