Creating a fairer Scotland goes hand in hand with creating a prosperous one, and housing is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities and tackle inequality.
Housing is an essential concern for the defence community, and we continue to work towards the vision that all people in Scotland live in high quality sustainable homes that they can afford and that meet their needs.
Priority access to our Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT) schemes (comprising the ‘Open Market Shared Equity Scheme’ and the ‘New Supply Shared Equity Scheme’) is provided to serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans who left the Armed Forces within the past two years, and widows, widowers and other partners of Service personnel for up to two years after their partner has been killed whilst serving.
The Scottish Government allocated £80 million to the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme in 2015, with applications being administered by five registered social landlords. These organisations recently promoted the Scheme to Service personnel in several military publications, including ‘Engage’, ‘Legion Scotland’, ‘The Informer’, and ‘The Highland Service Community Official Guide’.
The Scottish Government has legislated to allow ex-Service personnel to establish a local connection to the area in which they served, enabling them to be treated fairly in housing assessments by local authorities. The Scottish Government has published a national housing guide for Service leavers, distributing over 14,000 copies. In order to raise awareness of issues faced by ex-Service personnel, the Scottish Government has also issued social housing allocations guidance, promoting flexibilities available to landlords for housing allocation, and encouraging fair and sympathetic consideration to applicants leaving the Armed Forces.
While almost all servicemen and women make a successful transition to civilian life, a number will sadly struggle and need extra support. Many organisations make a valuable contribution by providing a safety net for those who need it most. For instance, Scottish Veterans Residences (SVR) provides valuable housing support services to vulnerable ex-Service personnel, with facilities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. The Scottish Government contributed £2.59 million to the Bellrock Close development, a 51-flat complex in Cranhill, Glasgow, providing 21 affordable rental homes exclusively available for former Armed Forces members and their families, as well as temporary accommodation for veterans in need of dedicated support.
The Scottish Government provided £1.3 million to the Scottish Veterans Garden City Association (SVGCA) to help build 38 homes across six local authority areas to support physically and psychologically impaired ex-Service personnel. Twenty of these homes are completed in Carnoustie, Inverness, Motherwell and Wishaw, with a further five homes at Salvesen in Edinburgh on site and due to complete in 2016. SVGCA is also working to secure other development opportunities across the country, with all 38 homes expected to complete within the next two years.
Looking to the future, housing provision has been subject to examination by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner, who made a number of recommendations for improvement in his report. Work is underway to implement those recommendations, in collaboration with partners.
A number of social landlords in Scotland have adopted a progressive approach on housing, for instance, dedicating a portion of housing stock for veterans or allowing flexibility on how local connection is established. We want to raise awareness and encourage social landlords across Scotland to secure appropriate housing, working through local Champions and other routes.
Some views from Service families assisted by the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme in 2015
Household one - contains a serving member of the Royal Navy:
“We have been happy with the support we have received from Albyn Enterprises and without the help from them we would not have been able to purchase our dream home. Initially the process appeared complex and we felt the criteria was a little unclear but with help from the team and our financial advisor we were able to make the application.
“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to use the scheme as without it we would not have been able to purchase our family home and for this we are very grateful.”
Household two - contains a serving member of the Armed Forces:
“After finding out we were expecting again we thought it was time to move from our two bedroom, third-floor flat. We decided that now was the right time to buy our own home and the one we wanted had just come on the market so we began to look into 95% mortgages as we didn’t have a huge deposit, unfortunately we didn’t qualify. Then we found out about the LIFT shared equity scheme - we looked into it and decided it could work for us so we applied and were over the moon when we were accepted!
“Without the LIFT scheme it wouldn’t have been possible to own our own home, at least not for a good few years anyway, now we have a lovely up and downstairs house with our own back garden for our son to play in and an extra bedroom for our little girl due in February. Would highly recommend this scheme to anyone who is looking to get on the property ladder but who doesn’t have a huge deposit. I am sure we will have many happy years in our new home!”
Email: Nadine Milne
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