The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 introduces a new duty on organisations in England to refer people they believe to be homeless or threatened with homelessness to the council.

People can be referred by the following organisations:

  • Social services authorities (adult and children’s social care)
  • NHS services - A&E services and urgent treatment centres/walk-in centres
  • NHS services - hospitals (when providing in-patient care)
  • Job Centre Plus
  • Prisons
  • Probation services (including community rehabilitation companies)
  • Youth offender institutions
  • Youth offending teams
  • Secure colleges and training centres
  • The Secretary of State for Defence (in relation to members of Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Army and Royal Air Force).

It is important that organisations make referrals to the council as soon as possible. This statutory duty is effective from 1 October 2018. 

How to make a referral

You can make a referral via your organisation’s Housing Jigsaw Alert referral system or by creating an account. If this is your first time of using Jigsaw for referring a client to us you will need to set up an account as follows:

  • Select Register
  • Enter Your Name and Email Address
  • Await your password link which is sent to you via email within 2 hrs of registration. Please note: these have a 24 hr life, so will need acting on as soon as you receive.
  • Once password has been set you will be redirected back to login with your email and password
  • You will then be asked a series of questions about your organisation.
  • Once submitted, You are ready to go!

Please note, making a referral does not trigger an emergency response from the Council. 
If you are referring someone who is already homeless please ring 0121 368 1166 for further advice. If you are calling out of hours this number will be diverted to the Out of Hours Duty Officer.

Before you start

A referral does not replace a homelessness application. The referred person or people will still need to make an application if they wish to seek the council’s help. However, following a referral, the Homelessness Solutions Team will contact the person to begin enquiries and decide if an application should be taken.

Before making a referral, the referring public body must:

  • Have consent to the referral from the person or people being referred
  • Allow the individual to identify the housing authority in England which they would like to be referred
  • Have consent that the service user’s contact details can be given so the housing authority can contact them regarding the referral

You will need

  • To create an account on your organisation’s Housing Jigsaw Alert. For this you need a valid organisational email address and to create a password
  • Details for the person or household being referred, including their preferred method of contact and where possible details about their current housing situation and/or support needs
  • To confirm that you have consent to the referral from the person(s) being referred.
  • You may wish to complete the referral with the person present. If that isn’t possible, the referral forms allow you to only enter information that you have knowledge of, as it is recognised that some referring bodies will not necessarily have an ongoing relationship with the person and/or household.

What happens after the referral has been submitted?

The Housing Solutions Team will contact the person or people being referred to find out what information, advice and support can be provided and where required a formal homelessness application will be taken.
The person being referred will be allocated a Housing Solutions Officer who will carry out a housing assessment and develop a personal housing plan with the person. The aim is to help them secure suitable accommodation for at least six months.
If it has not been possible to prevent or relieve a person’s homelessness, the team will determine whether person qualifies (has a priority need and are homeless through no fault of their own) for long-term housing, where one suitable offer of housing is made. 
The referring body (the officer making the referral) will be able to see via the referral portal whether the housing authority has responded to the referral. The referring body can also download the submitted referral and provide a copy to the person being referred.     

Where can I find further information?

The Housing Solutions webpages have further information and advice for people who may need housing advice or support from other agencies depending on their current situation.
You can also contact Sandwell Council’s Housing Solutions team directly at the following email address:
A fact sheet explaining more about the Duty To Refer can be found here.