It is concerning that new analysis undertaken by the No Homeless Veterans campaign finds the majority of local authorities in England are failing to take account of veterans in their housing and homelessness planning and strategies.
Of the 343 local authorities in England, 252 do not include veterans in their housing strategies and, despite clear guidance within the Homelessness Code of Guidance, 176 fail to consider the needs of veterans in their homelessness strategies.
Simple changes to these practices could make a great difference to the experience of former Servicemen and women and prevent them from falling into homelessness.
Housing is one of the most important parts of a successful transition, and no one who has served their country should be left without a home.
Since the launch of the No Homeless Veterans campaign in September 2019, we have toured the country and briefed nearly 100 local authorities, providing free resources to help them identify veterans, understand and apply the guidance and legal requirements, and find charity support for ex-service personnel.
The No Homeless Veterans campaign calls on local authorities, homelessness charities, and advice agencies to ‘Think Veteran’ in order to effectively identify former Servicemen and women and quickly signpost them to the enhanced support available to them.
The campaign is coordinated by Stoll, the leading provider of supported housing to vulnerable and disabled veterans and led by the Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities) Housing Cluster, which coordinates the response of charities to homeless veterans.
It is funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.
As part of the campaign, we have outlined crucial steps to help end this crisis.
We want local authorities to ask every person who applies for housing whether they are a veteran and to know what to do when they identify one.
This includes routinely asking everyone who applies for housing whether they have served in the military, having a robust system in place to record veterans’ data, giving frontline staff the knowledge about where to refer veterans when identified, and ensuring they are up to date with the guidance and legislation.
This is set out in our local authority Toolkit, developed in partnership with the Royal British Legion.
Our aim is that every single local authority should identify and refer veterans to appropriate services so they can find somewhere to live as soon as possible. This includes signposting them to the Veteran’s Gateway, the specialist telephone and web-based advice service for ex-service personnel in the UK, including specialist housing advice.
It is only by working together we can to stop veterans’ homelessness and do the best we can for those who have served their country.
That is why we are calling on more local authorities to come forward and work with us.