Duty to Refer one month on

At the beginning of October, the s213b Duty to Refer came into force across England, effectively enforcing a more joined-up, collaborative approach between local authorities and partner agencies.

In the weeks leading up to October and in the month since, local authorities nationwide have adopted our free ALERT module as a means of managing the full range of referrals and notifications that came out of the Homelessness Reduction Act. ALERT is now the most widely used tool for Duty to Refer in the country.

Whilst it is of course, too early to speak of the impact of this new duty on those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, we are beginning to observe how those local authorities using ALERT are managing the changes to their processes.

Throughout the period, we have been listening to the needs of those using ALERT and with their feedback, have been honing the system to provide key updates and enable them to better support partnership working.


One such improvement was in adding a notes function to referrals within ALERT that could be seen by both the referring and the receiving party. One user at Birmingham City Council let our team know: ‘I’ve noted the new update with the two-way notes interface. I’m very, very impressed and it just made our job a whole lot easier here. Our triage team love the simplicity.’

Along with updates to the ALERT system itself, in line with demand, our busy team have also been developing an add-on, ALERT+, which allows even greater configuration and control of the ALERT module. There are three key benefits to LAs that have been focused on in the creation of ALERT+, each of which is outlined below:

  1. Greater control over where referrals are coming from through ALERT. We’ve ensured that with ALERT+, LAs are able to choose which wider agency categories can refer to them through ALERT:
  1. More control over the information accompanying each referral as it is sent out. All letter templates with ALERT+ can be modified by the local authority before it is sent:
  1. Ability to inform future service delivery and current performance level. ALERT+ gives users access to reports within ALERT to encourage enhancement of service delivery:

In addition, with ALERT+ you can add and remove questions from each referral type you receive and also choose which questions are mandatory and optional. This allows you to control the information you receive at a granular level for each referral.

To find out more about ALERT, or ALERT+, head to the Housing Jigsaw website or get in touch at info@housingjigsaw.co.uk.