If you're leaving the armed services, or you are a former member, you may be entitled to help if you become homeless
What are your rights?
If you are currently in MOD accommodation and are due to be discharged from service, then the Secretary of State for Defence from the 1 October 2018 is subject to the Duty to Refer. This means that members of the regular forces in England that are considered to be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days should be referred, with your consent, to the council for assistance.
How the council can help
Once the council receives this referral they will contact you to review your circumstances. if you are currently at risk of homelessness then North Norfolk District Council will work with you for an initial 56 days under the ‘Prevention Duty’ and will work with you to produce a ‘Personal Housing Plan’. These will be used together to assist you in resolving your current situation. If after 56 days you are no longer able to remain at the accommodation the council will continue to work with you for a further 56 days under the ‘Relief Duty’. If it has not proven possible to stop you becoming homeless and you have nowhere to stay, the council will decide if it has to provide you with emergency temporary accommodation.
If after this period of time the council has been unable to prevent or relieve your current housing situation, the council will make a decision under Part 7 of the Act. on whether it accepts that you are homeless in priority need and not intentionally homeless with regard to assisting you in finding longer term accommodation.
Criteria for homelessness
You can be considered for priority need for accommodation if you are classed as vulnerable as a result of being a former member of the armed forces.
When deciding this the council may consider:
- The type of service the applicant was engaged in (those in active service may find it more difficult to cope with civilian life);
- The length of time the applicant spent in the armed forces (although authorities should not assume that vulnerability could not occur as a result of a short period of service).
- Whether the applicant spent any time in a military hospital (this could be an indicator of a serious health problem or of post-traumatic stress).
- Whether HM Forces’ medical and welfare advisers have judged an individual to be particularly vulnerable in their view and have issued a Medical History Release Form giving a summary of the circumstances causing that vulnerability.
- The length of time since the applicant left the armed forces, and whether they have been able to obtain and/or maintain accommodation during that time.
- Whether the applicant has any existing support networks, particularly by way of family or friends.
To help support your case, you may need to provide medical evidence from the MOD, including a Medical History Release Form (if you were given one). It can be hard to establish that you are vulnerable without this.
You may need to seek independent legal advice or help from a specialist agency to make representations on your behalf if this council decides that you do not meet the criteria set out above, and does not provide you with accommodation.
Help from the armed forces
The principal responsibility for providing housing information and advice to Service personnel lies with the armed forces up to the point of discharge. These services are delivered through the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) and through Veterans UK. Some people who have served in the armed forces for a long period, and those who are medically discharged, may be offered assistance with resettlement by the MOD’s resettlement staff.