The Scottish Government is working to increase the number of homes across Scotland so that everyone has a good quality home that they can afford and that meets their needs.
Funding is available through our affordable housing supply programme to deliver homes for veterans, where local authorities identify this as a strategic investment priority – for example, we have awarded over £350,000 to East Lothian Council to deliver six homes for veterans on the site of a former Council depot in Cockenzie (three of which will be fully wheelchair accessible). The homes, which are due to complete by the end of the financial year, will be allocated to disabled veterans who will be nominated for the housing by Veterans Housing Scotland – a charity and private landlord specifically for disabled veterans in Scotland.
Open Market Shared Equity
The Open Market Shared Equity scheme is marketed in Armed Forces publications and continues to be available to members of the Armed Forces, veterans who have 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 lost their life while serving. These households have priority access to the scheme, which means that they do not need to be first-time buyers to benefit from it. The Armed Forces community have benefitted from this scheme over the last year.
Local Housing Strategies
Local authorities have a statutory duty to prepare and submit a Local Housing Strategy, which is at the heart of the arrangements for housing and planning through its links with Development Plans and its strategic role in directing investment in housing and housing related services locally.
In September 2019 we published refreshed Local Housing Strategy guidance which encourages local authorities to fully consider the housing requirements of the Armed Forces community. The guidance has also been strengthened to encourage appropriate engagement with relevant organisations, such as Veterans Scotland, to better understand the needs of this Community when developing the Strategies.
Social Housing Allocations
The Scottish Government published new practice guidance on social housing allocations in February 2019. In response to the Scottish Veterans Commissioner’s recommendations, Social Housing Allocations in Scotland – A Practice Guide contains practical advice for social landlords on allocations for people leaving the Armed Forces. It includes guidance on giving priority to Service leavers and on ensuring that veterans are not at a disadvantage when applying for social housing due to Service time spent out with an area. In addition, the guide reinforces the need for social landlords to have clear information and housing options advice services in place for all applicants, including veterans.
We continue to support Housing Options Scotland to provide its Military Matters project. This service focuses on housing issues affecting people serving in the Armed Forces in Scotland; all UK Service personnel transitioning into civilian life in Scotland, and veterans – helping them to find the right home in the right place. Since it began in 2012 the project has helped over 600 people, with 75 new referrals in 2018-19.
The Scottish Government has also contributed to Poppyscotland and Veterans Scotland’s Supporting the Armed Forces community with Housing in Scotland - A Best Practice Guide which was published in October 2019.
Future Accommodation Model
We continue to engage with the MOD to support the roll out of the Future Accommodation Model pilot at HMNB Clyde (Faslane). We also attend quarterly meetings between Argyll and Bute Council and MOD personnel at the base to discuss the implications for the housing market of the relocation of the UK’s entire submarine fleet to HMNB Clyde by 2020.
In November 2018, we published jointly with CoSLA the Ending Homelessness Together: High Level Action Plan. This sets out our actions in response to the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group’s final recommendations to end homelessness and transform temporary accommodation and includes an action to develop preventative pathways for the groups at highest risk of rough sleeping and homelessness.
We recognise that some veterans are at high risk of homelessness. We are therefore committed to developing a pathway to prevent homelessness for veterans. We will work with relevant stakeholders, including the MOD, local authorities and third sector partners to develop the pathway in 2020.
Housing to 2040
In last year’s Programme for Government, the Scottish Government made a commitment to plan together with stakeholders for how our homes and communities should look and feel in 2040 and the options and choices to get there. This year we reaffirmed that commitment. We have been engaging extensively with stakeholders, including veterans organisations, to help shape a draft vision and principles for 2040. We will ensure that veterans organisations have the opportunity to further input into this work as it progresses. In July 2019, we published the draft vision and the principles which will underpin and inform the development of policy choices and options.
Private Rented Sector
The Scottish Government has been working with key veterans housing organisations over the last year to provide an exemption from the Private Residential Tenancy for charities providing accommodation to veterans. New regulations came into force on 1 July 2019 meaning that organisations can operate as originally intended within common law without conflict to their charitable purpose. The regulations ensure that a veteran may be offered temporary accommodation for a period of rehabilitation and training, or permanent accommodation in line with the organisation’s charitable purpose and the needs of the veterans.
South Lanarkshire Council Housing Priority
Since August 2010, South Lanarkshire Council and registered social landlords in its area participating in the Homefinder Common Housing Register have given members of the Armed Forces who meet certain criteria the highest priority for housing, along with homeless applicants and those with an urgent medical need.
This priority status is now awarded up to six months prior to, and up to six weeks following, the date of discharge from the Service. To be awarded priority, the applicant must make reasonable choices about where they wish to live and the type of property they wish to live in.
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