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Homelessness: Armed Forces

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many former armed forces service personnel were estimated to have been homeless in (a) 1997 and (b) 2007. (203455)

Information about local authorities’ actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level, in respect of households rather than people. Information reported includes the number of households accepted by local authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty. The duty owed to an accepted household is to secure suitable accommodation.

Since 2005, data have been collected on the number of accepted households whose reason for loss of last settled home was having left HM forces. In 2007, 211 applicants accepted as owed the main homelessness duty cited the reason for loss of their last settled home as having left HM forces, representing 0.3 per cent. of total acceptances

Information is also available by the priority need of the household. In 2007 there were 36 households accepted as being in priority need primarily as a result of being vulnerable through having served in HM forces. This represents less than 0.1 per cent. of all acceptances in the year. However some ex-forces personnel will be hidden within other priority need categories, for example, the presence of dependent children or having a mental illness), and so will not show up as ex-forces in these figures.

Many of those applicants with the HM forces priority need are likely to have the reason for loss of having left HM forces accommodation, so there will be overlap between the two figures.

Local authorities who conduct rough sleeper counts collect information on any individuals sleeping rough, and these are published annually on our website. Figures include those rough sleepers who have previously served in HM forces, but these are not shown separately.

Rough sleeping among ex-armed forces personnel has dropped. There are no specific data for 1997 but studies at the time suggested between a quarter and one fifth of rough sleepers had been in the armed forces at some stage. There is specific information for London provided under the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) recording system. In 2006-07, for those rough sleepers in London contacted by services, 5 per cent. had spent some time in the armed forces in the past. This has remained consistent over the last four years.