ARMED forces personnel are to be given priority for council housing in the Arun district.
The individuals who have an urgent housing need will be moved up a band in Arun District Council’s housing allocation scheme.
The change was agreed by the cabinet members of the council as part of a package of alterations to the scheme.
Cllr Gillian Brown, the council’s leader, backed the recognition of the work for the country carried out by serving and veteran soldiers, sailors and airmen.
“This is a very comprehensive document but also very straightforward,” she said. “I am pleased that we have recognised the armed forces within it. That is good.”
Council residential services’ cabinet member, Cllr Trevor Bence, said: “This is for the benefit of armed forces personnel.”
The higher priority applies to former members of the regular forces and serving members who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service.
Bereaved spouses and civil partners of members of the regular forces leaving services’ family accommodation after the death of their spouse and partner will also be given the accelerated treatment for a new home.
Serving or former members of the armed forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service will be given priority as well.
The council’s housing allocation scheme has three priority bands – A, B and C. Those with the greatest need are placed in band A.
Housing applicants in unsanitary or overcrowded housing are usually placed in band A and those who need to move on medical or welfare grounds are put in band C.
Only applicants or partners living in the Arun district, or have lived in the district permanently for five years just before they apply are generally accepted on the allocation scheme.
They also need to have been in work in the district for at least two years. But an exception is made for many serving and former members of the armed forces.
Satnam Kaur, Arun’s group head of residential services, said: “We have taken the opportunity to support armed forces personnel.
“They will be placed into one band higher than their assessed need. This means if they are assessed as band C then they will be uplifted to band A.”
She said the allocation scheme also needed to be changed to take account of the new legal definition of homelessness.
A statement in the scheme, backed by councillors, says: “The council is committed to offering an element of choice to all those seeking housing, enabling people to make well-informed decisions about their housing options referred to as ‘choice based lettings’.
“Available vacant properties are advertised for applicants to place ‘bids’ for properties which are suitable for their needs and in their desired location.”