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Sleeping Rough: Veterans

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 19th October 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people with an armed forces background were sleeping rough in (a) Denton and Reddish constituency and (b) Greater Manchester in each year since 2000; and what proportion of the total number of rough sleepers that figure represents in each such year.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister for Housing

The latest figures (2011-12) from CHAIN (Combined Homeless and Information Network), which covers London and contains detailed information on London's rough sleepers over the year, highlights that only 4% of rough sleepers from the UK have experience of serving in the armed forces.

The Department publishes an annual headline figure on the number of people sleeping rough on a single night across England. This does not provide more detailed information such as whether they have served in the armed forces.

We secured an additional £70 million last year to help local agencies prevent and tackle homelessness. This includes the £20 million Homelessness Transition Fund to support the national roll out of No Second Night Out, tackle rough sleeping and protect vital front line services and the £20 million Single Homelessness Prevention Fund to help ensure single homeless people get access to good housing advice.

This is on top of the existing £10.8 million to help single people access private rented sector accommodation and the £400 million we are investing for homelessness prevention over four years (2011-12 to 2014-15).

The Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness published its second report Making Every Contact Count in August which focuses on preventing homelessness and includes people leaving the armed forces. A copy of the report can be obtained at:

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/makingeverycontactcount

We are determined to ensure that current and former members of the armed forces gain the housing they deserve, recognising the sacrifices they have made for the country. We have, therefore, introduced measures to place members of the armed forces at the top of the priority list for home ownership schemes, including FirstBuy.

We published the final new statutory social allocations guidance on 29 June following consultation, setting out how councils' allocation schemes can give priority to all service personnel, including through the use of local preference criteria and local lettings policies.

We are also changing the law by regulation so that former personnel with urgent housing needs are always given ‘additional preference' (high priority) for social housing; and councils are prevented from applying local connection requirements to disqualify members of the armed forces and those within five years of leaving the services. Following consultation, we are also extending these regulations to bereaved spouses and seriously injured reservists. The qualification regulations came into force on 24 August; the additional preference regulations were laid before Parliament on 18 October.

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