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Veterans ‘let down’ by council housing strategies, charity warns

Military veterans are being ‘let down’ by council housing and homelessness strategies, new analysis by the No Homeless Veterans campaign has suggested.

The charity analysed 343 local authorities in England and found that 252 do not include veterans in their housing strategies. They also found that despite clear guidance within the Homelessness Code of Guidance, 176 fail to consider the needs of veterans in their homelessness strategies.

Additionally, in the latest official data released in January 2020 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), housing allocations for veterans fell by 10.74% last year (2,447 in 2017-2018 down to 2,184 in 2018-2019), despite the requirement upon local authorities to give veterans ‘reasonable preference’ when allocating housing.

According to the charity, these failings mean veterans across the country are potentially being missed by local authorities when they present themselves in housing need and aren’t receiving the enhanced support they are entitled to.

The No Homeless Veterans campaign aims to reduce veterans’ homelessness as close to zero as possible. It calls on local authorities to ‘Think Veteran’ in order to identify former servicemen and women and signpost them to the support available.

Since its launch in September 2019, the team behind the No Homeless Veterans campaign has travelled the country, briefing nearly 100 local authorities and providing free resources to help them identify veterans, to understand and apply the guidance and legal requirements, and to find charity support for veterans.

Ed Tytherleigh, co-chair of the Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities) Housing Cluster, said: ‘We know that some local authorities are doing an excellent job helping veterans who find themselves homeless. However, it is still clear that many are failing to take account of veterans.

‘That is unacceptable and there is more work to be done to ensure that every local authority is set up to identify veterans and direct them to the enhanced support they deserve. It is paramount that we continue to do the best we can for those who have served their country and are calling on more local authorities to come forward and work with us.’

Richard Dixon, housing options officer at North East Derbyshire Council, recently helped a veteran who was faced with homelessness.

The former sergeant suffers with PTSD caused by a personal tragedy and the horrors he witnessed during his 20 years in the Army. Due to the urgency of the case, Richard and his colleagues were able to offer the veteran temporary accommodation and help secure a permanent council home shortly after.

Richard said: ‘Stable housing is one of the first crucial steps to life on civvy street for people leaving the Armed Forces, which is why local authorities can play such an important role in their supporting their smooth transition.

‘By working with the campaign we’ve been able to improve our own processes and increase the identification of veterans which will reduce the number sleeping on streets. We urge all other local authorities to do the same and make sure that everyone who has served their country receives the support they deserve.’

Photo Credit – No Homeless Veterans

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