(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that local authorities do not discriminate against members of HM armed forces applying for social housing who have left the services earlier than the period for which they had signed up.
Local authorities are required to consider every application for housing accommodation including those from a member of HM armed forces, provided it is made in accordance with the procedural requirements of their allocation scheme. Furthermore, local authorities must treat every applicant as eligible for an allocation of accommodation, with the exception of certain persons from abroad specified in regulations; and persons whom an authority decides to treat as ineligible because they (or a member of their household) have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make them unsuitable to be a tenant of the authority.
The hon. Member in asking the question is perhaps referring to the application of “local connection” in respect of the allocation of social housing under the Housing Act 1996. At the moment members of the armed forces cannot establish a local connection with the area in which they are stationed or work. This can put the members of the armed forces at a disadvantage where a local authority takes account of local connection in its allocation scheme.
In this respect I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made on 21 June 2007, Official Report, column 108WS, by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning in which it was announced that we would make the necessary changes to housing legislation, at the earliest opportunity, to ensure that service personnel are put on an equal footing with other people when applying for an allocation of social housing.
The fact that a person may have left the services earlier than the period for which he or she signed up is not a relevant factor in determining their eligibility or priority for an allocation of social housing.