The armed forces covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation that the armed forces community should be treated fairly and face no disadvantage when accessing public and commercial services, with special provision made in appropriate cases for those who have sacrificed the most.

In 2021, the Armed Forces Covenant Duty was created to put a legal obligation on specified public sector bodies, including local authorities. These bodies are required to show due regard to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when exercising certain statutory functions in the fields of healthcare, education, and housing. The Duty came into force on 22 November 2022.

If you are still in the armed forces

The Defence Transition Services (DTS) team is the Ministry of Defence’s tri-service focal point to provide service personnel and their dependants with civilian housing information for those wishing to move to civilian accommodation at any time in their career, and for those during resettlement to assist with the transition to civilian life.

Defence Transition Services delivers an annual programme of civilian housing briefings to help inform and guide service personnel and their families about the choices available to them and the need to plan ahead. Briefings are open to all service personnel and their families, at any stage of their service career.

They run regular sessions on:

  • buying a house and renting private property
  • independent financial advice and understanding the mortgage process
  • affordable home ownership schemes
  • forces help to buy
  • social housing and the Ministry of Defence referral scheme

The sessions are available to all members of the armed forces, whether or not you have committed to leaving the services.

Ask for help early

If you think you will be homeless on leaving the armed forces, contact us as soon as possible. If you can provide a letter of discharge or other evidence which confirms the date of your discharge and you have no other accommodation options, we should accept your date of discharge as the date you become homeless.

If you fail to contact us for help before your discharge, you may need to stay in your accommodation and wait for Defence Estates to evict you. Defence Estates have to give you Notice to Vacate. A copy of the notice can support your homeless application.

Help if you are homeless or at risk of homelessness

You will be able to make a homelessness application to us. If you become homeless, we will decide whether you qualify for help under the automatic criteria for individuals considered to be in priority need (for example, you have dependent children). We will also consider whether you are vulnerable and whether an issue, such as disability, mental health problems or addiction, affects your ability to secure housing for yourself.

When considering whether you are vulnerable and in priority need, you can support your case by showing your service with the armed forces has contributed to your vulnerability.

We will consider:

  • how long you served with the armed forces and your role
  • if you spent time in a military hospital
  • if you were discharged from service on medical grounds (and have a Medical History Release Form)
  • if you have obtained and maintained accommodation since leaving the forces
  • the length of time since you have left the service

Other services

There are a range of services for people currently serving in the forces and former services personnel and their families, for example:

  • SSAFA provide housing advice to people currently serving in the forces and ex-services personnel and their families.
  • Veterans’ Gateway can support ex-forces members with healthcare and housing issues, and also give advice about employability, finances, personal relationships and more. Veterans’ Gateway can also be contacted 24 hours a day on 0808 802 1212.
  • Veterans’ Housing Advice (VHA) is a new service which provides clear pathways for ex-service personnel in housing need throughout the UK to move into permanent homes. It can, for example, provide a housing intervention that removes the need to consider a rent bond or rent deposit. It is provided in partnership with the Royal British Legion, Shelter and Connect Assist. Its main aim is to make accessing the services of charities easier through a telephone helpline open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. The direct number to an advisor is 0808 801 0880. Services provided include:
  • Supported accommodation – providing temporary accommodation for veterans, with support
  • Long term housing – providing settled accommodation for veterans, with or without support
  • General needs – unsupported housing for members of the ex-service community unable to buy or rent on the open market. Tenants will usually be self-sufficient but may need to access some of the floating support listed. Some adapted properties may be available or adaptations arranged as necessary
  • Floating support – services delivered by visiting workers to people in their own homes to help people maintain their settled accommodation.
  • Outreach services – covering work with rough sleepers or people in temporary accommodation to help them access more settled accommodation and any support needs
  • Day centres – the provision of activities and support to homeless and vulnerably housed people (also called by some providers ‘drop-in’ facilities)
  • Amicus Trust is a registered charity that supports the single homeless community. They might be able to arrange supported accommodation

Last reviewed: March 18, 2024 by Ian

Next review due: September 18, 2024

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