PATRIOTIC South Tyneside Council is to provide homes for Armed Forces heroes as part of a shake-up in council house allocations.
The local authority recently signed up to the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant to ensure service families get the priority for social housing.
There are 5,509 active applicants on the council’s Housing Register, with all placed in bands from one to five in order of need.
But today, members of the council’s decision-making cabinet are expected to endorse a change to put Armed Forces personnel in band one – a “high need” category.
That would require service personnel from anywhere in the UK to receive accommodation within three months.
Also receiving priority treatment would be bereaved spouses and civil partners of services personnel, and serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of serious medical problems or injury.
Additionally, the council is to add time served in the Forces to any housing bid, meaning an Armed Services application would be backdated to the time they signed up to serve their country.
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In a report to today’s cabinet, Coun Jim Foreman, the council’s lead member for housing and transport, says: “The Government’s Armed Forces Covenant has made clear its responsibility to support the Armed Forces in return for the important contribution they make to the country, and ensure that service families get the priority social housing they deserve.”
Members will also be asked to endorse a new band one plus – ‘critical need’ – housing category.
This has been specifically created for those applicants who need to move to new accommodation immediately.
It also covers those in critical medical need, those being discharged from hospital, and those experiencing severe harassment or fleeing abuse.
There will be a £15,000 cost to upgrade the council’s computer system in order to take into account changes to the policy.