Homelessness: Armed Forces

House of Lords written question – answered at on 29 August 2013.

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Photo of Lord Rogan Lord Rogan UUP

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action the Ministry of Defence are taking to tackle the issue of former members of the Armed Forces sleeping rough on the streets.

Photo of Lord Astor of Hever Lord Astor of Hever The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The 2012-13 figures reported by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network indicate that 3% of those found sleeping rough in London claim to have served in our Armed Forces. This represents a 1% decrease against the previous year. We would like to bring it down further.

In order to minimise the risk of service personnel becoming homeless on leaving the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has introduced a number of home buying initiatives, such as an advance of salary which is then repaid over a 12 year period—interest free—and the Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme.

To assist the transition of serving personnel to civilian life, the MoD offers a wide-ranging resettlement programme which includes a briefing by the Joint Services Housing Advice Office. This offers advice and information about a range of products that Armed Forces personnel may find useful relating to an individual's housing needs before they leave the Armed Forces.

In addition, the MoD has supported the establishment of two supported housing schemes for ex-service personnel—Mike Jackson House in Aldershot, which opened in 2008 and The Beacon at Catterick, which opened to residents in September 2011. The focus is on helping individuals to develop independent living skills and with finding suitable “move on”/ permanent accommodation, training and employment. Both schemes are managed by Riverside English Churches Housing Group

Once a person leaves service, any need for social housing becomes a local authority matter. The MoD is working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure the fair treatment of service families in need of social housing and ensure they are given proper priority on housing waiting lists.

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