Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeper Strategy

Strategic Framework and National Context

The Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeper Strategy has been developed in response to a number of legal duties and powers, and with regard to national and local policy.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is the Government department with responsibility for housing and homelessness.


While the Homelessness Act 2002 contains the strategic duties, the main operational legislation on homelessness is contained in the Housing Act 1996 (“the 1996 Act”). This includes a statutory definition of homelessness which broadly means that you may be legally homeless if:

  • You have no legal right to live in accommodation anywhere in the world.
  • You have a home but cannot get into it for some reason.
  • It is not reasonable to stay in your home, for example because you are at risk of violence or abuse or because of affordability problems.
  • You are forced to live apart from your family, or people you normally live with, because there is no suitable accommodation for you.
  • You are living in very poor conditions, such as overcrowding.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

This Act made sweeping changes to the 1996 Act demonstrating the direction of government policy: towards a more collaborative approach between the local housing authority and the customer and also between public bodies, with a focus upon preventing homelessness rather than tackling it once it has happened. The key changes were:

  • A prevention duty: the Council must take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness for any eligible household at risk of homelessness within 56 days, regardless of priority need. This can involve assisting them to stay in their current accommodation or helping them to find a new place to live.
  • A relief duty: the Council must take reasonable steps to help a household to secure suitable accommodation. Help could be, for example, providing a bond guarantee, funding a rent deposit or working with a private landlord to make properties available.
  • Personal Housing Plans: Personal Housing Plans: the Council must carry out a holistic assessment of the applicant’s housing needs, support needs and the circumstances that led to them becoming homeless.
  • A Duty to Refer: certain named public authorities must refer users of their service, who they have reason to believe are homeless or threatened with homelessness, to a local housing authority of the service user’s choice. The aim of this is to help people to get access to homeless services as soon as possible and ensure that people’s housing needs are considered when they come into contact with a range of public bodies.

Rough Sleeper Strategy

The Government published a Rough Sleeper Strategy in August 2018 that lays out their commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027. The work to deliver these aims is built around three core pillars: Prevention (understanding the issues that lead to rough sleeping and providing timely support for those at risk), Intervention (helping those already sleeping rough with swift support tailored to their individual circumstances) and Recovery (supporting people in finding a new home and rebuilding their lives).

Welfare Reform Act 2012

The major proposal for reform was the introduction of Universal Credit, which replaced the previous in and out of work benefits. Welfare reforms present ongoing challenges to households in receipt of benefits and to the organisations and individuals that house and support them. Most notably, since the introduction of Universal Credit, local authorities and social housing providers have reported its impact on claimants’ ability to meet their household costs.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021

This Act addresses the needs of victims of domestic abuse, the act imposes a duty on the Council’s to provide support in safe accommodation and that all eligible victims of domestic abuse have a priority need for assistance.

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act set a strong expectation that agencies would work together to protect children, young adults and people with care and support needs.

Children Act 1989

The Children Act sets out clear expectations on the requirement for suitable housing for 16- and 17-year-olds, looked after children and preparing care leavers for independent living. Subsequent guidance and case law has clarified how social and housing services should work together.