The 25 housing providers which form Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) have become the first housing partnership to sign up to the new Voluntary Duty to Refer – part of the Homelessness Reduction Act of 2017.

The Homelessness Reduction Act introduces a new duty on certain public authorities in England to notify Local Housing Authority’s of service users they think may be homeless or threatened with becoming homeless in 56 days. Currently, public bodies such as prisons, job centres and hospitals are bound by the act to refer individuals as risk of homelessness, but this duty is not imposed on housing providers.

After writing letters to the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett, GMHP members have 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.

Jon Lord, chairman of GMHP, said: “One of the key Mayoral priorities is how we can work together to reduce homelessness. As a collaborative group of housing providers, GMHP members already work very closely with their local authorities and the GMCA 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.”

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