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Pre-discharge advice

The principal responsibility for providing housing information and advice to military 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 difficulties ex-service personnel can face in accessing suitable housing on discharge are well documented.

Housing policy is a devolved matter and there are some variations in approach between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Armed Forces Covenant

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 families.” The section on housing says:

In addressing the accommodation requirements of Service personnel, the MOD seeks to promote choice, recognising the benefits of stability and home ownership amongst members of the Armed Forces where this is practicable and compatible with Service requirements, and also that their needs alter as they progress through Service and ultimately return to civilian life. Where Serving personnel are entitled to publicly-provided accommodation, it should be of good quality, affordable, and suitably located. They should have priority status in applying for Government-sponsored affordable housing schemes, and Service leavers should retain this status for a period after discharge. Personnel may have access to tailored Armed Forces housing schemes or financial arrangements, depending on their circumstances, to help them in purchasing their own property. Those injured in Service should also have preferential access to appropriate housing schemes, as well as assistance with necessary adaptations to private housing or Service accommodation whilst serving. Members of the Armed Forces Community should have the same access to social housing and other housing schemes as any other citizen, and not be disadvantaged in that respect by the requirement for mobility whilst in Service.

The Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow, published alongside the Covenant, outlined measures taken to honour its implementation. The Government reports to Parliament annually on progress made with respect to pledges made under the Covenant. These reports are available on the website.

The Governments of Wales and Scotland and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for delivering certain aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant in their areas. Both the Welsh and Scottish Governments contribute to the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Reports. The Welsh Government published a refreshed package of support in 2016, Giving and Receiving: Supporting and investing in our Armed Forces Community in Wales. There is also a Welsh Government webpage: Armed forces and veterans.

The Scottish Government published Scottish Government support for Veterans and the Armed Forces Community in Scotland in Autumn 2018.

In Northern Ireland veterans don’t generally attract additional priority for housing.

Strengthening the position of ex-service personnel in accessing housing

Prior to publication of the Covenant, Governments had acted to implement various measures aimed at strengthening the position of ex-military personnel when seeking to access housing. These measures have included the addition of new “priority need” categories to assist homeless ex-service personnel; changes to the rules on local connection which had potential to disadvantage veterans in accessing social housing; and the inclusion of ex-military personnel as a priority category for certain low-cost home ownership initiatives. 


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