Armed Forces Covenant

Department for Communities and Local Government written question – answered at on 24 March 2015.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effect of changes in funding to local authorities on their ability to support Armed Forces Community Covenants.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Local authorities share in our national commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, and have signed Community Covenants committing to support the Armed Forces community in their area and promote understanding amongst local people. Local councils and residents will know the needs of their communities and can decide their spending priorities appropriately.

We have introduced a number of measures over the last few years as contribution towards meeting the objectives of the Armed Forces Covenant to ensure that the Armed Forces Community does not face disadvantage, patricularly in housing. This includes:

Funding for local authorities

We have set aside £200,000 in 2014/15 from the annual Disabled Facilities Grant funding for local authorities to fund home adaptations (eg ramps, walk-in showers, stairlifts) to meet the needs of disabled ex-service personnel who wish to live independently in their homes.

We have provided grants (totalling over £1 million) with MOD, to a small number of local authorities in 2011 and 2012 to support the successful integration of retired Gurkha soldiers who wished to settle in the UK.

Improved access to social housing

We have introduced protection to ensure that former and current Service personnel are not disadvantaged in accessing social housing because of the disadvantages of military life. We have made sure that seriously injured personnel and former members of the Armed Forces with urgent housing needs are always given high priority for social housing, and that serving personnel and those who have recently been discharged do not lose their qualification rights because of the requirement to move from base to base.

We have also encouraged local authorities to, in general, give sympathetic consideration to the housing needs of family members of serving or former Service personnel.

Preventing homelessness

We have introduced measures to provide support for specialist accommodation for veterans, and work with councils to prevent homelessness. We have also introduced initiatives such as Streetlink and No Second Night Out which ensure that when veterans end up sleeping rough they are offered care and support from local services.

Access to home ownership

Members of the Armed Forces have been given priority for Government-funded shared ownership schemes and are able to access Help to Buy: equity loan scheme. The priority status can be transferred to bereaved spouses or civil partners. We have also worked with MOD, credit reference agencies, and Royal Mail to standardise Forces' Post Office addresses so personnel are not disadvantaged when applying for mortgages.

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