Health and Fitness

Personnel With Mental Health Issues To Be Given Priority On Housing

Government proposals to give serving and former personnel with mental health issues priority in social housing.

An eight-week consultation on the new rules started on Wednesday (Picture: MOD).

Armed forces personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues are to be given priority for social housing under new government proposals.

The measures would give current and former servicemen and women dealing with mental ill health issues the same priority treatment as those with physical problems.

Changes could also be introduced to make it easier for partners of armed forces personnel to find social housing if they divorce or separate.

An overhaul of the system would ensure that all applicants for social housing are asked if they have served in the military to make sure veterans also get the help they are entitled to.

James Brokenshire MP on the announcement

The proposals are being put out for consultation by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire. He said:

"We have a duty to ensure our heroic military personnel get the support they need when applying for a social home."

He went on to say, "We want to see that applying for social property should not be a challenge in the transition from military service to civilian life."

In response to the announcement, CEO of charity Forces in Mind Trust said:

"Well over 1,000 men and women leaving the Armed Forces need urgent support to find accommodation every year.

"We welcome these proposals, which will undoubtedly make a significant difference to those in most need.

"But we urge ministers to also ensure veterans feature in local authority housing strategies and appropriate advice is given to anyone applying for housing advice who is identified as a veteran."

At the moment, people who split from forces partners have to move out of military accommodation and can be denied social housing because they have "not been resident in the area for long enough".

In some cases - particularly those involving domestic abuse - they may be unwilling to remain in the area where their military partner is stationed.

Service accomodation

The Government is now consulting on possible new guidance encouraging councils to waive residency rules. An eight-week consultation on the new rules starts today.

Veterans minister Tobias Ellwood said "These new measures demonstrate how the Armed Forces Covenant supports the military community. He added:

"Mental health is just as important as physical fitness and it's right that former service personnel should have priority access to housing."

Catterick Garrison housing aerial
Military housing at Catterick Garrison (Picture: MOD).