The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper
outlining the options available to serving and ex-military
personnel which ARCH members may find as a useful reference for
elected members and officers.
The principal responsibility for providing housing information
and advice to Service personnel lies with the armed forces up to
the point of discharge. These services are delivered through the
Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO). The GOV.UK website
lists the type of assistance on offer to service personnel who are
planning to leave the armed forces and require housing
The government published the Armed Forces Covenant on 16 May
2011. This document is described as 'an expression of the moral
obligation that the Government and the Nation owe to those who
serve or have served in our Armed Forces and to their
In recent years, the government have implemented various
measures aimed at strengthening the position of ex-military
personnel when seeking to access housing. These measures have
included the addition of a new "priority need" category under Part
7 of the Housing Act 1996 (the part which governs homelessness) and
changes to the rules on local connection to ensure that barriers
are removed for ex-military personnel. Ex-military personnel have
also been prioritised for government-backed low-cost home ownership
In June 2012 the government revised the statutory guidance on
housing allocations for local authorities. This guidance now
emphasises the flexibilities authorities have to prioritise
applications from ex-service personnel.
Every local authority allocation scheme must ensure that
'reasonable preference' is given to certain categories of applicant
as set out in sub-section 166A(3) of the Housing Act
1996. Regulations, which came into force on 30 November
2012, provide that 'additional preference' must be given to
applications from certain serving and ex-members of the armed
forces (and reserve forces) who come within the reasonable
preference categories defined in sub-section 166A(3) of
the 1996 Act and who have urgent housing needs.
On 21 June 2007 the then Minister for Housing, Yvette Cooper,
announced the government's intention to amend the local connection
provisions 'to resolve this disadvantage that members of the Armed
Forces have been experiencing in accessing social housing'. The
Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 22 July
2008. Section 315 of this Act amended the local connection test in
section 199 of the Housing Act 1996 to enable Armed Forces
personnel to establish a local connection in an area through
residing there by choice, or being employed there, in the same way
as a civilian.
If a former member of the armed forces becomes homeless they may
make an application for assistance with housing to a local
authority under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended).
Authorities must assess whether homeless applicants are
unintentionally homeless and in 'priority need.' These 'priority
need' categories are set out in section 189 of the 1996 Act and
include vulnerable former members of the armed forces.
View the briefing.