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Charity calls for more help for ex-servicemen looking for housing

A leading charity has called on local authorities to ‘understand better the needs’ of veterans as they leave the Armed Forces and look for social housing.

Speaking to New Start, the chief executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock CBE (pictured) said a ‘significant number’ of people who leave the Armed Forces end up looking for social housing.

Mr Lock said many veterans are stationed in one part of the country, but once they leave the Armed Forces they may relocate to another area or return home to somewhere they have not lived for a considerable amount of time.

‘The question for councils is are you looking out for people leaving the forces and coming into your areas?’ he told New Start.

‘Are you making sure they are able to access social housing, even though on the face of it, they might not have local connections? What we are looking for here is for local authorities to better recognise that ex-members of the armed forces should be looked out for, and that they must understand better the needs of ex-servicemen personnel as they transition into their areas.’

Mr Lock stressed that those who have been in the armed forces and their families are ‘not looking to be treated better than the rest of the population, they just want to be treated fairly’.

He was speaking as the Forces in Mind Trust launches its new housing policy statement.

It recommends the earlier identification of vulnerable service personnel by the Ministry of Defence to ensure preventative support is provided and the risk of unsuccessful or difficult transition is minimised.

And it calls for more to be done to equip ex-service personnel and their families with the necessary knowledge, skills and awareness of the civilian housing and rental market, and the financial planning and personal budgeting required, to achieve a sustainable accommodation solution.

‘Local authorities over the last three or four years have made enormous efforts how they deliver various aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant,’ said Mr Lock.

‘Some of them have taken the decision to employ people to make sure the covenant is delivered across all local authority services. Some of these people have been taken on as salaried staff. Some of them have been funded by grant awards.

‘Our big concern, as we move into an even tighter public spending round this autumn, is that some of these great steps forward will be reversed and some of the people who have been making these changes.

‘Pragmatically, we recognise that councils have to make budgets work, but we will be lobbying for councils to retain those elements that will allow that local authority to improve its delivery of the Armed Forces covenant in the housing sector. We would also call on the government to find the funding to make that happen,’ he added.

Photo Credit – Supplied

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