Government expands social housing access for veterans

The government has announced new measures to provide members of the armed forces, veterans and their families improved access to social housing.

Under the new measures, councils have been told to give priority for social housing to members of the armed forces and veterans suffering from poor mental health, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Former spouses or civil partners of serving personnel will also be exempted from rules requiring them to be a local resident to qualify for housing in a given area.

The government announced the new measures this past weekend on Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the service of those in the British Armed Forces.

The housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “I want to ensure serving and former members of the Armed Forces who suffer from mental ill health are given the priority for social housing they deserve, together with appropriate care and support.

“There can be no better time than this Armed Forces Day, after such a challenging time, to celebrate the skill, tenacity and professionalism of our Armed Forces. Their contribution has been extraordinary and we are all grateful for their efforts.”

Since 2012, current and recently discharged service personnel have not had to be ‘resident’ in an area to gain access to social housing.

The new guidance expands this right to former spouses or civil partners of serving personnel, while veterans are already granted better access to social housing under the Armed Forces Covenant.

Councils have been encouraged to train their staff in the new guidance so they can understand the housing needs of the Armed Forces community and be consistent in their approach to housing applications.

The minister for defence people and veterans Johnny Mercer said: “This new guidance is the Armed Forces Covenant in action – government ensuring that the whole armed forces family can more easily access public services.

“The unique circumstances of veterans and service families will now more readily be taken into account when allocating housing.”

The British Armed Forces have played a key role in the UK’s COVID-19 response, including in the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in recovery planning.

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