On Armed Forces Day, 27 June, the Housing Minister announced new measures to improve access to social housing for members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.
This follows a government consultation last year on proposals for new statutory guidance for local authorities to improve access to social housing for members of the armed forces community.
In effect, the government has brought together different provisions into statutory guidance on how councils should ensure members of the armed forces and veterans who need support with their mental health are given priority for social housing.
The guidance says local authorities should consider how they can take into account the needs of all serving or former service personnel when framing their allocation schemes, including setting aside a proportion of properties for them. This might be particularly relevant where the council or housing association partners are making new properties available.
The government also stresses in the guidance that former spouses or civil partners of serving personnel should be given extra support when applying for social housing and be exempted from rules requiring them to be a local resident.
Since 2012, current and former service personnel who have been recently discharged have not had to be “resident” in an area to get access to a social home for their families, as part of government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. Under the Covenant, veterans with more urgent housing needs are also eligible for additional preferences for social housing.
Last year, the government sought views on proposals for new statutory guidance for local authorities to improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces community.