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Ex-servicemen: Housing

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances discharged service personnel can be classed as vulnerable service leavers and eligible for priority housing. (145712)

Guidance on vulnerability of former members of the armed forces and their need for priority housing is set out in Chapter 10: Priority Need, paragraphs 10.12 (iv)—10.14 and 10.21—10.23 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2006.

People who seek social housing, including service personnel approaching discharge or recently discharged, should apply to their local housing authority to join the waiting list for an allocation of housing under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996

The homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) provides a safety net for people who become homeless in a crisis. Under the legislation local housing authorities must secure suitable accommodation for housing applicants who are homeless through no fault of their own and who fall within a priority need group. This applies to all applicants who are eligible for homelessness assistance, including discharged service personnel.

The priority need groups include, among others, applicants whose household includes a child or pregnant woman and applicants whose household includes a person who is vulnerable in some way. In 2002, the Government extended the priority need groups by Order to include, among others, applicants who are

“vulnerable as a result of... having been a member of Her Majesty’s regular naval, military or air forces”.

It is a matter of judgment by the local authority whether an applicant’s circumstances make him or her vulnerable for the purposes of the legislation. Local authorities must consider whether, when homeless, the applicant would be less able to fend for him or herself than an ordinary homeless person, so that he or she would suffer injury or detriment in circumstances where a less vulnerable person would be able to cope without harmful effects.

The potential vulnerability to homelessness of personnel due to leave the Service would be considered by the individual’s resettlement officer as part of the normal discharge process, and referral made to the Joint Service Housing Advice Office as necessary, which can assist with applications for social housing.