To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that veterans have equitable access to housing.
17 March 2021
Delivering on the Armed Forces Covenant, the Government has taken steps to ensure that serving personnel and veterans are not disadvantaged when seeking to access social housing
The law was changed in 2012 so that seriously injured, ill or disabled Service personnel, and former members of the Armed Forces, with urgent housing needs are always given ‘additional preference’ (high priority) for social housing. At the same time, regulations were introduced which ensure that serving personnel and those within 5 years of having left the forces cannot be disqualified from social housing because of a local connection or residency requirement
Both provisions also apply to seriously injured and disabled Reservists and bereaved spouses of Service personnel who are required to leave accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence
In June 2020 we published new statutory guidance for local authorities to further improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-access-to-social-housing-for-members-of-the-armed-forces . The guidance:
- sets out how local authorities can identify applications from members of the Armed Forces community to ensure that they are considered appropriately
- ensures that members of the Armed Forces and veterans suffering from mental ill health are given appropriate priority for social housing; and
- makes clear that local authorities are expected to disapply any local connection requirement from divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of Service personnel who are required to move out of accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence
We have also ensured that members of the Armed Forces have priority for government-funded shared ownership schemes. Service personnel retain their priority status for up to 24 months after service. If they die while in service, their priority can be transferred to their bereaved spouse or civil partner
In recognition of the unique nature of service to the Armed Forces, we have arranged that serving members, veterans within 5 years of leaving the services, divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of serving members, or the spouse or civil partner of a deceased member of the Armed Forces (if their death was wholly or partly caused by their service) shall not have to meet any local connection criteria in order to qualify for a First Home. This will give them the opportunity to settle in the community of their choosing
First Homes are the Government’s new home ownership scheme, designed to provide a sustained and ongoing supply of new homes sold to first-time buyers with a discount of at least 30% (in some areas, the discount could be as high as 50%). The discount will remain with the property each time it is sold and local authorities can apply additional criteria (such as a local connection test) to target specific groups with housing need.