Social Housing: Service Personnel now able to establish Local Connection

'Social Housing Discrimination' update 23 Jun 2010: The Housing (Scotland) Bill has passed its first stage in the Scottish Parliament. Opening the debate for the Scottish Government, Alex Neil MSP said that the bill will, amongst other things, "remove the absurd anomaly under which our servicemen and women are unable to form a local connection in the areas in which they were based during their service in the armed forces to enable them to get on the housing list."  BAFF strongly supports this reform, which follows a similar change south of the border.

Establishing a local connection under English housing legislation

(BAFF Dec 2008) Parliament has amended the Housing Act in favour of Service Personnel, who are now entitled to establish a local connection in the same way as civilians do. This will benefit individuals and their families for the purposes of applying for homelessness assistance or social housing, in England. Previously, being stationed in an area did not count for the purpose of establishing a local connection with that area.

The change follows a campaign led by Colour Sergeant Nick Cowan, with strong support from BAFF, The Royal British Legion, and users of unofficial service community websites. BAFF obtained, through the Federation's solicitors Russell, Jones & Walker, written legal advice from counsel to assist the campaign. BAFF monitored the Bill's progress through both Houses and lobbied parliamentarians about it.

The change took effect on 1 December, 2008 and is most likely to benefit those about to leave the Forces, those who have recently left, separated partners, and their families. Click here to read the Government letter to local authoritiesClick here to read the Government letter to local authorities.

The legal detail

The change to the law in England is contained in section 315 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008section 315 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, which amended section 199 of the Housing Act 1996, which prevented applicants for social housing from establishing a "local connection" in the area where they or their partners had been stationed while serving in the armed forces.

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