Housing Minister Grant Shapps pledged to support members of the UK's Armed Forces in buying their first home or applying for social housing, on Friday, and announced a package of housing help for heroes.
Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, Mr Shapps set out his plans to ensure that each of our country’s servicemen and women get the housing help they need.
He said that, all too often, the nature of military work can become a ‘blockade’ to members of the Armed Forces meeting their aspirations for a secure and stable home, and made a key pledge to Service personnel to pull out all the stops to give them the support they need.
The package of housing help for heroes includes:
help for first-time buyers: servicemen and women looking to own their first home will be 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.
tailored support: to make sure they know exactly what’s on offer, housing experts are visiting military bases across the country to explain to our nation’s best how they can apply for one of the thousands of new homes that will be built in the next few years.
moving up the waiting list: ministers believe that years of loyal service to this country should not become an obstacle to finding a home, yet moving from base to base can often leave our troops without strong local connections - something many councils look for when allocating social homes. That’s why Mr Shapps has pledged to give councils a duty to put heroes who want a home in their area at the top of the local waiting list.
Finding a home is not the only challenge our heroes can face when returning from active duty and other measures include:
support for the wounded: the Government has increased funding for home adaptations so that Service personnel who return from active service with serious injuries can live independently with the dignity and respect that their selfless sacrifice deserves.
access to credit: the Government is also working hard to bring relief to Service personnel 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. Ministers are working closely with credit companies and the Royal Mail to ensure the unique circumstances of military life will no longer be an obstacle.
homelessness support: for ex-Service personnel who find the transition back to civilian life difficult, ministers across government are working with homelessness and veterans experts to find out how we can prevent our brave veterans from facing a life on the streets.
Mr Shapps said:
Our brave men and women in uniform aren’t looking for sympathy and handouts, but all too often their selfless sacrifice for this country can become a major blockade on the road to a home of their own.
That’s why house-hunting heroes on the look-out for their first home will be at the very front of the queue for new government-funded schemes like FirstBuy. And we’re working hard to make sure that our troops know exactly what options are open to them.
Equally, years of loyal military service should not be rewarded with years of languishing on local waiting lists. Just as our brave troops answered their call of duty, councils will need to do the same, to ensure that heroes who want a home in their area will be at the top of local waiting lists.
All these actions mean we’re marching double-time toward making sure that those who serve our country get the homes and support they deserve.