Hampton Ward Newsletter – February 2018
Most of you will be aware by now of the recent commotion surrounding an ex member of the special-forces who found himself in need of a permanent home in Herefordshire.
A number of people quickly jumped on the bandwagon, having been egged on by a TV presenter and a well-known ex SAS soldier currently making a living as an author. None of these people had bothered to make any effort to discover the true facts of the case and large numbers of anonymous internet trolls immediately demanded the head of the Leader of the Council, as in their opinion the Council had failed to comply immediately with their calls to supply this man with a house.
Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems and I think it worthwhile to explain how housing is allocated in Herefordshire and of our stance with regard to our ex-service personnel.
As part of the council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, we prioritise housing for all former members of the armed services and they will always receive additional assistance to aid their applications. They’re also given an advantage on the housing waiting list by having their applications back-dated by 6 months. This will speed up the process of securing appropriate housing for them.
It’s particularly important to know that Herefordshire Council does not own any housing stock. ‘Council Houses’ are a thing of the past and all available social housing is held by a number of different housing associations, which is the preferred process used by many local authorities in the UK.
The council only operates the social housing register and will help local people to apply and bid for available homes from lists maintained by the housing associations. Once a bid has been placed for a particular house, the applicant will liaise directly with the housing association and not the council. However, the council continues to provide support for people who need to claim housing benefit.
We currently have 1,328 people and their families looking for social housing in Herefordshire and 13 of these have an armed forces background. Everyone registered for social housing is advised that the more flexible they can be with their choice of location, the quicker they are likely to receive appropriate housing. For example, there are 24 one-bed properties available across the entire county and only three of these are in Hereford city.
We know that it’s often hard for people to ask for support, especially if their personal circumstances are difficult or distressing and our staff will always be sympathetic and supportive, but they must be seen to be fair to everyone who needs help.
The council continues to provide support for armed forces veterans across the county and we work hard to find suitable accommodation for any applicant needing it and it’s vital that anyone requiring support must be prepared to supply, in confidence, all the various personal details necessary for the application to be processed in a timely manner.
Finally, the Council is currently working in partnership with the Community Self Build Agency to build new homes in Leominster, specifically for ex-service personnel.
Cllr Bruce Baker