Dec 8 2011 By Caroline Spelman
WE are all proud of our servicemen and women. They are the heroes who put their lives on the line for their country and they deserve special support for their housing needs.
However, the nature of military work can become an obstacle to members of the armed forces in meeting their aspirations for a secure and stable homelife.
The Government has recognised this and has pledged to help our country’s servicemen and women, whether buying their first home or applying for social housing. That’s why we are placing them at the very front of the queue for Government-funded home ownership schemes, including the new FirstBuy scheme - which will prioritise military personnel and their families for up to a year after active service ends.
We are also helping those whose years serving abroad or living on military bases have left them with no permanent address - which can often make applying for credit or a mortgage almost impossible. The Government is working closely with credit companies and the Royal Mail to standardise Forces’ Post Office addresses so personnel are not disadvantaged when applying for mortgages.
For those who require social housing, we are consulting on plans to change the law so that former servicemen and women are given high priority for social housing, and those who move from base to base will not lose qualification rights. We will also issue statutory guidance to councils on the allocation of social housing, including the use of local preference criteria and local lettings policies.
We are providing a Disabled Facilities Grant, rising to £185 million by 2014/15, so that home adaptations can enable disabled service personnel to live independently.
We are encouraging custom-built housing for ex-service personnel, and we will ensure that planning rules are flexible enough to support applications from disabled ex- servicemen and women for homes that suit their individual needs.