Armed forces get fast track to social housing
Former members of the armed forces are to be given additional priority for access to social housing above that offered to other people in housing need.
Guidance on housing allocations issued by the Communities and Local Government department today states the government intends to legislate to ensure military personnel get precedence over other people who meet the ‘reasonable preference’ criteria.
The benefit will apply to former members of the armed forces, serving members and members of reserve forces who need to move because of injuries sustained as a result of service, and bereaved spouses or civil partners.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘This nation’s heroes, serving in military hotspots around the world, put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis and it’s only right that we should have the support in place for them and their loved ones when they need it most.’
The government has issued revised guidance for local housing authorities in England on their allocation polices following the implementation of the Localism Act 2011, which gives authorities greater freedom to vary their policies according to local need.
As before, authorities must ensure reasonable preference is given to people who fall into five categories, including being homeless, living in unsanitary or overcrowded accommodation, or who need to move on medical or welfare grounds. The new guidance makes clear that former members of the armed forces who meet these requirements should get additional preference.
It also urges authorities to consider other factors when framing their allocation policies, including the importance of a local connection, prioritisation of families who are in work or seeking employment, and favourable treatment for carers, adopters and foster carers.
Several councils have already announced they will be introducing allocations policies in line with the government’s guidance.
Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing at Hammersmith and Fulham, said: ‘There can be no people more deserving of a council house or access to homeownership that those who give voluntary service in the name of Queen and country. That it why we are already proposing to give greater priority to ex-armed services personnel for affordable housing.’