SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol)

SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) for rough sleepers

During extremely cold weather – specifically when temperatures fall to zero degrees or lower on a single night – special measures come into action with the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol. 

No one should be sleeping rough especially in freezing conditions  When the SWEP protocol is activated anyone who is rough sleeping can contact us to access emergency accommodation for the period of time that the protocol is activated.

The housing options team can be contacted during the hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 01543 462621, out of hours telephone number is 01543 462621.

Full details of the Severe Weather Protocol (SWEP) can be found below. 

 Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) for Rough Sleepers









Purpose of the protocol



Trigger for putting the protocol into place









Financial implications



Monitoring and review



Partner Agencies



Your views


















  1. Background
    1. Rough sleeping is the most extreme and visible form of homelessness and yet many rough sleepers do not qualify under the homelessness legislation as being eligible for housing assistance. A Government commitment is that no rough sleeper should have to spend a second night out (Vision to end Rough Sleeping No Second Night Out July 2011) and in 2018 the MHCLG launched a Rough Sleeping Strategy setting out the Government’s vision for halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027.  

    1. The Council is committed to working with partners to link rough sleepers with the services that can help them find a way off the streets and into settled accommodation. However, in times of extreme and cold weather, rough sleepers are particularly vulnerable to harm and death.

    1. This Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) sets out the arrangements that Cannock Chase Council will put in place to ensure that people are not at risk on the streets in the Cannock Chase area during severe weather.

    1. The Protocol will be in place at any time where the criteria in Section 3 applies.


  6. Purpose of the Protocol

    1. This protocol will ensure that the Council takes the necessary action to ensure that all rough sleepers have the opportunity to have access to shelter if it is believed that they are at risk due to sleeping rough during severe cold weather. This protocol refers to SWEP Guidance (2018 and 2019) provided by Homelessness Link www.homeless.org.uk 


  8. Triggers for putting the protocol into place

    1. Historically SWEP has been triggered when temperatures have been forecast at zero degrees or below for three consecutive days. However, this advice to Local Authorities was updated in October 2018 and now recommends that a common sense approach is taken, where the impact of the rain, snow and wind chill are taken into account, and the ‘feels like’ temperature is checked, along with conditions underfoot (i.e. ice), when deciding to implement SWEP provision.

    1. Therefore, taking into account the revised recommendations the SWEP Provision for Cannock Chase Council will be implemented if the following criteria applies:

The temperature is forecast to drop to zero degrees celsius or below on a single night or consecutive nights.  In addition, local conditions such as prolonged periods of heavy rainfall, flooding, snow on the ground, severe high winds, wind chill and other predicted extreme weathers will also be considered as potential triggers.

    1. At times of extreme hot weather/heatwaves people sleeping rough may find it difficult to source drinking water and sun protection, increasing risks around dehydration, sunburn and sunstroke. Needs are likely to be more urgent during daylight hours, so a different approach to SWEP will be employed: i.e. the provision of water, sunscreen and support, rather than overnight accommodation provision.

    1. The Housing Options Team receives weather alerts direct via email from the Civil Contingencies Unit and the regional weather forecast will be checked daily on the Met Office website www.metoffice.gov.uk . If the above criteria are met the SWEP will be implemented.

    1. SWEP will be deactivated when the forecast predicts temperatures of 1 Degree Celsius or above for two or more consecutive nights, however, as previously stated local conditions of prolonged periods of extreme weather will be considered when deactivating SWEP.

    1. The Council’s website www.cannockchasedc.gov.uk  will be updated to advise members of the Public and Statutory/Voluntary agencies that the Protocol has been implemented and to refer any rough sleeper identified within the Cannock Chase District to the Housing Options Team on 01543 462621, the same contact number applies for the ‘Out of Hours’ Homelessness Service.


  5. Eligibility

    1. The Council will not apply Part VII Housing Act 1996 criteria (as amended by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017) that govern access to housing when deciding whether to assist a person sleeping rough during the period of the SWEP.  As a result, the individual concerned will not be required to demonstrate eligibility for assistance (including whether they have any recourse to public funds), priority need, intentionality or local connection.

    1. The individual concerned must only:

  • Be at risk if they continue to sleep rough during the course of the severe weather;

  • Have no where to sleep indoors during the period of the severe weather (indoors does not include cars, sheds or garages);

    • Agree to the assistance offered by the Council.

    1. Many entrenched rough sleepers may be wary of services and less likely to engage. However, extreme weather increases the risk of death or serious illness to people who sleep rough. Continued refusal to accept assistance during severe weather conditions may therefore provide grounds to trigger referrals to other services, such as mental health services, to safeguard the individual.


  2. Procedure

    1. If the rough sleeper meets the eligibility criteria (detailed in Section 4) they will be offered accommodation for the duration of the severe weather.

    1. Within office hours the Housing Options Team will manage the arrangements for booking of emergency accommodation. Outside of office hours the Council’s ‘Out of Hours’ Homelessness Service will arrange to place rough sleepers into emergency accommodation during the period of time the SWEP is in operation. The contact number is 01543 462621.

    1. All rough sleepers placed into emergency accommodation when the SWEP is in operation will receive assistance from the outreach team provided by Spring Housing, a housing options assessment and referred to other agencies for support, subject to their consent.

    1. Once the minimum temperature is predicted to have risen above zero degrees Celsius, emergency accommodation will no longer be provided.

    1. The rough sleeper will continue to be offered advice and assistance to deal with their longer term issue of homelessness.

    1. If any incidents of anti-social behaviour or unacceptable behaviour occur during the period of time that the emergency accommodation is being provided, the Housing Options Team will review the assistance being provided to ascertain if there are any alternative options to prevent rough sleeping during the severe weather whilst at the same time managing the risks.

    1. The temporary accommodation accessed will comprise Hostel, Supported Accommodation, Bed and Breakfast establishments.


  10. Financial Implications

    1. The cost of providing emergency accommodation during the SWEP will be met from existing Council resources: The Bed and Breakfast Budget, Government Homelessness Prevention Fund and Housing Benefit.


  12. Monitoring and Review

    1. The following information will be recorded and used to monitor the extent of rough sleeping in the district.

  • Source of the referral

  • Number and composition of rough sleepers

  • Number of nights accommodated

  • The cost of emergency accommodation provided

  • Information from the Housing Options assessment

  • Referrals to partner/voluntary agencies


  1. Partner Agencies

Disclaimer: Cannock Chase District Council accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for the actions taken by the Partner Agencies under this Protocol, as they are subject to their own policies and procedures. Being included on the list of Partner Agencies does not imply or infer that the Council approves, endorses or supports the services provided by them and no contractual relationship exists between the Council and the Agencies.

Copies of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) will be sent to the Partner Agencies listed below:


  • Accord
  • Adullam Housing Association
  • Anchor
  • Birch and Samson
  • Bromford
  • Heantun
  • Housing 21
  • Midland Heart
  • Sanctuary / Beth Johnson
  • SSHA
  • Platform
  • Wrekin Housing Trust
  • Cannock Chase NHS Primary Care Trust
  • Adult Services (Social Services)
  • Leaving Care (Social Services)
  • Staffordshire & West Midlands Probation Trust
  • Staffordshire Police
  • Age Concern Staffordshire
  • Aelfgar House
  • HealthWatch
  • Leaving Care (Social Worker)
  • Barnardos
  • Staffordshire Children’s Placement Service
  • Staffordshire Youth Offending Team
  • Staffordshire Women’s Aid
  • Substance Misuse Commissioning Team
  • BID
  • Rethink
  • Community Safety Team
  • Autism West Midlands
  • South Staffordshire Network for Mental Health
  • Human Kind Charity
  • CCDC Housing Options
  • Cannock Advice Centre
  • Midstaffs MIND
  • Support Staffordshire
  • South Staffordshire Family Mediation Service
  • Salvation Army
  • Pye Green Christian Centre and
  • Cannock District Food Banks 
  • Chase Lighthouse
  • Cannock Lions Club


  1. Your views

    1. As a reader of this protocol your views are important, please contact us if you have any comments on any aspect of the information provided.


For further information please contact:

Housing Options Team

Civic Centre, Beecroft Road, PO Box 28, Cannock, Staffordshire, WS11 1BG

Tel:   01543 462621

Email: housingoptions@cannockchasedc.gov.uk







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