One in 10 Armed Forces personnel wait over five years for social housing
One in 10 veterans and Armed Forces personnel wait longer than five years for social housing, analysis by Labour has revealed.
The proportion of the service population and their families waiting more than five years for social housing has hit its highest level on record, according to the research.
It also found that the proportion of those waiting six months to a year has reached an all-time high of 17.4%, which is 5% higher than the general population.
Labour claimed that the government’s Armed Forces Bill, which is currently being considered in the House of Commons, will do little to tackle the issue of housing head on.
The bill will require specified public bodies to have due regard to the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces in the areas of housing, education and health care.
But Labour said the bill will “pile unclear legal responsibilities for housing onto councils without any new resource to meet them”.
The government argued that Armed Forces households wait less time on average for a social home than civilian households.
The party said it plans to work cross-party to help the bill’s select committee, which met for the first time today, to solve this issue.
Some of the options under consideration include minimum housing standards and extra help for local authorities to house veterans, it added.
Last year the government altered its guidance on social housing allocations to tell councils that members of the Armed Forces and ex-servicewomen and men suffering with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be given priority for housing.
The guidance also “strongly encourages” councils to exempt former spouses or civil partners of service personnel needing to move out of Ministry of Defence (MoD) accommodation from any local connection requirements to qualify for a social home.
Shadow armed forces minister Stephen Morgan said: “This data reveals yet another way in which the government fails to meet commitments to our Armed Forces, who serve our country with courage and distinction.
“The Armed Forces Bill is a shameful attempt to outsource the delivery of the covenant, piling unclear legal responsibilities onto councils with no new resource to meet them.
“Labour will challenge the government to take responsibility for the welfare of our service personnel and improve housing standards to make sure our armed forces have a roof over their head.”
Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said: “The Armed Forces Bill is designed to ensure our personnel are supported in their local communities which is the minimum they deserve for defending our country.
“Data clearly shows that it’s not true that service personnel and their families wait longer for social housing than civilians and we continually work with local authorities to improve access.”
CREDIT Inside Housing
NEWS 05.03.21 2:30 PM BY LUCIE HEATH