The Council's duties and how to get help

If you are eligible for assistance and homeless or threatened with homelessness, your local council should give you help to secure accommodation or to prevent your homelessness

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days, the Council will:

  • Make an initial assessment following your approach to the service and arrange to interview you to gather further information

  • Carry out a needs assessment and develop a Personalised Housing Plan with you

  • Provide a written decision on your application as to which duty is owed to you by the Council

  • Work with you to prevent or relieve your homelessness

Prevention Duty

If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days the Council will have a duty to try and prevent this to try and enable you to stay in your home or to help you find alternative accommodation. If you are likely to lose your home in the next 56 days you should contact the Council’s Homelessness & Advice Service on 01229 876599.

The help the Council will provide is likely to include

  • Giving you your local housing options

  • Giving advice and helping you with your difficulties in finding somewhere else to live

  • Assisting you to find accommodation through Cumbria Choice Based Lettings and in the private rented sector

  • Considering you for financial assistance to help you to secure private rented accommodation

  • Referring you for supported housing

  • Develop a Personalized Housing Plan with you

This prevention duty will come to an end if you:

  • are able to remain in the accommodation you are in

  • accept alternative accommodation which is suitable and likely to last for at least 6 months

  • reject alternative accommodation which was suitable and was likely to last for at least 6 months

  • refuse to engage with the help which is being offered

  • lose contact with the Council

  • cease to be eligible for assistance

  • become homeless

  • withdraw your application

Relief Duty

If homelessness cannot be prevented the Council will have a duty to relieve your homelessness, this duty lasts for 56 days. During this period the Council will help to secure you alternative accommodation. However, only people who the Council have reason to believe have a priority need will be offered temporary accommodation.

The help the Council will provide is likely to include:

  • Giving you your local housing options

  • Giving advice and helping you with your difficulties in finding somewhere else to live

  • Assisting you to find accommodation through Cumbria Choice Based Lettings and in the private rented sector

  • Considering you for financial assistance to help you to secure private rented accommodation

  • Referring you for supported housing

  • Develop a Personalized Housing Plan with you

This relief duty will come to an end if you:

  • accept alternative accommodation which is suitable and likely to last for at least 6 months

  • reject alternative accommodation which was suitable and was likely to last for at least 6 months

  • refuse to engage with the help which is being offered

  • lose contact with the Council

  • cease to be eligible for assistance

  • withdraw your application

  • 56 period comes to an end

If you are still homeless after this period the Council will make a decision on what further duties you are owed. The extent of these duties depend on whether you have a priority need or whether your homelessness was your fault. The Council’s duties to help you may be reduced if you rejected suitable accommodation or refused to engage with us whilst we had the 56 day duty to relieve your homelessness.

For more information on our statutory duties towards people who are homeless or likely to become homeless, please read our Homelessness leaflet.

How to get advice & information or make a self-referral

We will provide advice and assistance to eligible homeless people free of charge and attempt to prevent homelessness whenever possible.

DURING OFFICE HOURS Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm (4:30pm Friday) call us on (01229) 876599 or email: dutytorefer1@westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk  

You can also self-refer (please note you may need to use Google Chrome to access this link).

OUT OF OFFICE HOURS In an emergency, call us on (01229) 833311. 

Referrals from Specified Public Bodies 

The 'Duty to Refer' Section 213b will require specified public bodies to notify housing authorities of service users they consider may be homeless or threatened with homelessness (ie it is likely that they will become homeless within 56 days).   For more details on this and how to make referrals please read Referrals from Specified Public Bodies.

Preventing Homelessness 

For information on ways in which you may be able to prevent yourself from becoming homeless, please read our leaflet Preventing Homelessness.

Looking for Private Rented Accommodation but can't afford a deposit?

Westmorland and Furness Council no longer offers a deposit guarantee scheme (DIGS) in its current format. We are reviewing our funding schemes and may offer something similar in the future however in the short term we may offer a cash deposit to a person who is threatened with or actually homeless and fits the relevant criteria. Any deposit paid would need to be registered in a government rent deposit scheme in the Council’s name and all deposits should be returned to the Council at the end of the tenancy. 

Please contact a member of the Homelessness Team on 01229 876599 for further clarification or for more information if required. 

For details of private landlords in the area please read our Private Landlords' Directory

Applying for Council Accommodation

Westmorland and Furness Council's Housing Service are part of the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Scheme. Cumbria Choice is where all the main social housing providers in Cumbria advertise their vacant properties.

You have to register to take part in the scheme and you can do this online at www.cumbriachoice.org.uk.  Alternatively, you can request help to complete an application form from our office: tel. (01229) 876554 or 876468 or email: cbl1@westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk

Once your application has been accepted, you will receive confirmation from the housing provider you apply to, which will detail the band you have been placed in based on your housing need.

Once you have registered and then completed a social housing application on the Cumbria Choice Scheme, you will be able to view adverts giving details of all our vacant properties (as well as other vacant properties in Cumbria). You are then given the option to express an interest (called ‘bidding’) for the properties you would like to be considered for. To do this you will need your registration reference number, which is provided in your confirmation notice, your memorable date (which is set initially as the main applicant's date of birth) - for security reasons, you will be asked to change this when you first log in - and a password which you will create when you register.

You can view properties each week by:

  • Visiting the website at www.cumbriachoice.org.uk

  • Properties are also advertised on Westmorland and Furness Council Thriving Communities Facebook page. 

You can express an interest (‘bid’) in a property by:

  • Visiting the website at www.cumbriachoice.org.uk

  • Using the Choice Based Lettings automated telephone number- 0300 011 2160

  • By text message to 07537 402 596

If you would like any further information on the scheme or wish to discuss an application you already have registered, please call us on 01229 876554 or 876468. 

Cumbria Choice & Preventing Homelessness

If you find yourself facing homelessness, you should make an appointment to see one of our Senior Homeless Assessment Officers - ring (01229) 876599 - they will assess your situation and establish whether it is necessary to link in with Cumbria Choice and award you some additional priority in the bidding process to improve your chances of securing accommodation through the scheme to prevent you becoming homeless.  This assessment is made on a case-by-case basis and not all those seeking advice will be eligible for a banding upgrade.

Rough Sleepers

Cold Weather Provision for Rough Sleepers

We can provide services to rough sleepers to prevent serious harm as a result of cold weather conditions, when the temperature is forecast to drop to zero degrees or less for three consecutive days.

People found sleeping rough can be directed to the Homeless Advice Team:

  • During office hours (9am–5pm / 4.30pm Friday) (01229) 876599

  • Out of hours: (01229) 833311

Assistance for Rough Sleepers

Ending rough sleeping is a national priority and we are working with other local authorities across Cumbria, with the aid of additional funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government, to address the needs of rough sleepers in this area.

Local Drop-in Assistance 

Read our leaflet which gives information on homeless support available in the community.

No Second Night Out Service Offer

We aim to implement the Government’s No Second Night Out principles, which are:

  • New rough sleepers should be identified and helped off the streets immediately so that they do not fall into a dangerous rough sleeping lifestyle.

  • Members of the public should be able to play an active role by reporting and referring people sleeping rough.

  • Rough sleepers should be helped to access a place of safety where their needs can be quickly assessed and they can receive advice on their options.

  • Rough sleepers should be able to access emergency accommodation and other services, such as healthcare, if needed.

  • If people have come from another area or country and find themselves sleeping rough, the aim should be to reconnect them back to their local community unless there is good reason why they cannot return.

Rough Sleepers are defined as:

"People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or 'bashes')."

Source: Evaluating the Extent of Rough Sleeping, Communities and Local Government, 2010.

NB. The definition does not include people in hostels or shelters, people in campsites or other sites used for recreational purposes or organised protest, squatters or travellers.

What We Can Do

  • New Rough Sleepers:  Our Homeless Advice Team is working collaboratively with partners to locate and support all identified rough sleepers.  We are able to do this within office hours.  However, in order to reach rough sleepers out of hours, we need other organisations and the local community to help by signposting rough sleepers to our services or reporting rough sleepers (see below).

  • Public Involvement:  Every local housing authority in Cumbria has a contact number (or numbers) which have been printed on cards and distributed around the county.  Anyone can phone these numbers to report rough sleepers.  The numbers for all of Cumbria are listed below.

  • Place of Safety:  We are able to offer interview facilities at our offices at the Town Hall, Duke Street, Barrow-in-Furness, LA14 2LD, between the hours of 9am – 4pm.    We may also be able to provide interviews elsewhere by arrangement with partner agencies such as Furness Homeless Support Group, 25 Bath Street.   Please read our Service Standards.

  • Emergency Accommodation:  We may provide emergency cold weather provision for rough sleepers.  However, we do not have any direct access or other hostel accommodation and therefore it is sometimes necessary to use accommodation outside of our district or other reasonable temporary measures/solutions.

  • Reconnection:  We will endeavour to reconnect rough sleepers to their local community or country where it is considered safe to do so.  Please read our Reconnection Statement.

To Report a Person Sleeping Rough in Cumbria

If the rough sleeper is within the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness please call our Homeless Advice Team on (01229) 876599 - office hours: 9am – 5pm (4.30pm Friday).  Out of office hours:  (01229) 833311

If the rough sleeper is located elsewhere in Cumbria, please call the appropriate number for the area.

Area                   Office Hours           Out of Office Hours

Allerdale          01900 702 660       01900 871 080

Carlisle              01228 817 079       01228 817 373 single men                                                                                                                             or 01228 817 386 women and families

Copeland          0300 500 0914         0300 500 0914

Eden                   01768 861 428       08003 581 401

South Lakeland  01539 793 199      0870 4286 905            

Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-2025

Barrow Borough Council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-2025 has been developed with partners, following the publication of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy (published in August 2018) which called on all local authorities to have a separate Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

The strategy sets out how the Council, alongside its partners, intends to meet the challenge of preventing homelessness over 2020-2025, ensuring support is available to help people avoid being without a home and sustain their existing living accommodation.  The strategy builds on the strengths of the previous strategy and contributes towards the strategic objectives within Barrow Borough Council’s Corporate Plan; in particular, to work effectively with partners to address current and future housing needs and achieve our vision ‘for our Borough to be a great place to live, work and visit’.

Barrow Borough Council’s Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-25

Homelessness Review 2020 

Reporting Requirement

The Ministry of Housing of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) requires the Council to report on its homelessness prevention activity.  This is known as H-CLIC (Homeless Case Level Information Collection).  The MHCLG wants to learn more  about the help provided to propler who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.  They want to use the information you provide about how you have become homeless or threatened with homelessness), your housing history and the sort of things that you need help and support with.  They also wants to look at how you use other public services and benefits you receive.  Your personal details (such as your name) will be needed for this but the researchers will not know whose information they are looking at.   

Your information will be kept safe and confidential, and handled with care and in accordance with the law.

If you want to know more information about H-CLIC, you can contact the Homelessness & Advice team on 01229 876599 or visithttps://gss.civilservice.gov.uk/statistics/working-with-users/dclg-homelessness-statistics-user-forum/

For information on the impact of the homelessness programmes, please read our leaflet Impact of the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 

Asylum Seekers 

An asylum seeker is someone who comes to the UK and applies for refugee status.  Asylum seekers are often fleeing persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.  Until refugee status is granted, such a person remains an asylum seeker.  

For information on asylum seekers in Cumbria visit Refugees in Cumbria - Asylum seekers | Cumbria County Council

Refugees in Cumbria

Visit Cumbria County Council's website Refugees and asylum seekers in Cumbria | Cumbria County Council

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