Ex-Soldiers Given Council Homes

The first to benefit from council's armed forces priority housing

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Two former soldiers have become the first to move into new council homes under Wandsworth’s policy of giving armed forces personnel a higher priority on its housing waiting lists.

Under a scheme introduced last year, soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who find themselves in housing need now have enhanced application rights when they apply for a new home in Wandsworth.

Giving service men and women higher priority is the borough’s way of saying thank you to people who have risked their lives for this country.

Wandsworth is one of only a handful of local authorities across the UK to be already giving service families greater priority for social housing - ahead of proposed Government rule changes that will give local authorities greater flexibilities in their allocation policies.

One of the former serviceman spent five years in the Royal Marines. He said:
“When you leave the forces you’re not given much advice about housing. The information was limited to just a list of numbers to call.

“It’s only through these kinds of reforms for people like me that I’ve got a home. The rules to help serving and ex-forces people are a really good idea. It’s great to know that people who serve their country have a chance when it comes to housing.  Leaving the forces is a huge change, so knowing that if you’re in need of housing there’ll be some help out there makes it all the easier. I’m delighted with my new flat.”

As well as being awarded higher priority in the allocation of rented housing, servicemen and women are also eligible for additional help and support in finding and buying an affordable home under the borough’s various “right to buy” type schemes.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said: “With the nation placing such high demands on our armed forces and their families, councils should be doing all they can to support servicemen and women on the home front, especially when it comes to meeting their housing needs.

“This extra support is crucial for those leaving the army, navy or air force. The move to civvy street can be a difficult and challenging time and councils must do all they can to help smooth that process by ensuring their housing needs are properly met.

“These brave men and women are risking their lives on our behalf. Providing them and their families with a decent roof over their heads is just one small way in which we can begin to repay them.”

May 10, 2012