Army families left homeless
Hundreds of former soldiers and their families are being deprived of homes because they are regarded as having no connection with the place where they lived while in the army, it was claimed yesterday. They are suffering at the hands of local authorities and housing associations as a result of their itinerant life, moving from base to base.
It is one of a series of issues being raised at a time when the armed forces and the defence budget are coming under strain. They include the poor state of armed forces accommodation and the difficulties servicemen and women experience getting mortgages, life assurance, and loans. Authorities are under no obligation to assist service personnel and their families. They are excluded from the 2002 Homelessness Act.
If they have no connection to the place what about asylum seekers and immigrants who have even less connection? Why are they given priority over those that have fought for this country? Why are they treated like second class citizens and why doesn’t the law apply to them?
Nick Cowan, 40, a colour sergeant formerly of the 1st battalion, The Royal Green Jackets, has been trying to raise awareness for years. He has written to the Queen, the regiment's colonel in chief, and petitioned Downing Street. He has been in the army for 22 years and has a wife, two sons, and a daughter. He seriously injured his back in an exercise in Brecon in 2002 and is due to be medically discharged in March.
He is having serious problems finding a home, with little or no prospect of getting a mortgage. If he and his family stay in their MoD home after he is discharged, he faces the prospect of being declared an illegal occupier.
He says there are 450 service families in a similar position. "This issue has been going on since the early 80s. Surely now is the time to stop this discrimination. I find it hard to believe our top-ranking officers are allowing this to go on uncorrected. If it was only 20 families, it would be too many, but 450 are waiting for some scraps to fall from the bureaucratic table. We are being let down by government and this [Homelessness Act] legislation."
Why is it happening to so many of our soldiers? It is an absolute disgrace. At the very least the ministry of defence should be buying up a few council houses within a few miles of the bases and renting them out to ex soldiers. Councils should also be doing more to prioritise housing for ex servicemen.