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Veterans

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the possible barriers that veterans face when attempting to access (a) housing and (b) employment on leaving the armed forces. (84858)

We are working closely with the Department for Committees and Local Government to enable service personnel to qualify under the “local connection” provisions of the Housing Act 1996, in order to overcome the barriers common to both servicemen and their civilian counterparts in access to affordable or social housing. The Joint Service Housing Advice Office offers advice and information about mortgages and affordable home ownership solutions including shared equity schemes. For those single personnel in danger of homelessness, it can facilitate access to temporary accommodation.

The success of Service leavers who use the career transition partnership as part of their resettlement preparation in securing employment after discharge—over 50 per cent. within one month of discharge, rising to over 95 per cent. six months after departure—suggests that there are few barriers to employment of most service personnel. Coaching provided by the Partnership often gives service leavers a competitive edge over other candidates and many of the personal attributes inherent in service culture are highly prized by civilian employers.

The Career Transition Partnership has an effective marketing arm that carefully targets prospective employers who can offer quality jobs to service leavers. Its marketing strategy includes dispelling negative misconceptions about service personnel and their ability to adapt to the civilian workplace. Employers who engage service leavers are seldom disappointed and tend to seek more when vacancies arise.

Individuals who depart under early service leaver arrangements may face more of a challenge. Those that discharge from recruit and basic professional training establishments before completing courses of instruction are unlikely to have gained the transferable competencies and professional qualifications of those service personnel who have entered productive military service. They therefore are more likely to have to contend with the same barriers to employment as confront civilians with a comparable lack of marketable skills. However, on discharge all ex-regular military personnel, regardless of age, have immediate access to the Department of Work and Pensions new deal, which includes occupational and basic skills training.