FORMER soldiers will be allowed to jump the housing queue to help slash homelessness rates among veterans.
Councillors in Edinburgh have agreed that the length of time someone has served in the armed forces will be equal to the amount of time others have been on the waiting list.
It means a soldier who has served five years will be counted as though as he or she had been on the housing waiting list for the same period.
In 2007, shocking figures revealed that one in four British war veterans was homeless and that almost three-quarters of serious crime is committed by ex-forces personnel.
Today’s (Tues) decision was taken at the Health, Social Care and Housing Committee because many ex-service personnel find it difficult to get social housing once they leave the armed forces as they have been living abroad or in service accommodation.
However to be eligible for the scheme, soldiers must register for social housing within three years of leaving the armed forces.
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s housing leader, said: “I’m delighted that we will be able to help people who have left the armed forces and are struggling to find somewhere to live.
“Many of them have spent time overseas serving their country and putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom and way of life. It is only right that we do everything we can as a Council to give them a helping hand.”
Ian Ballantyne, Chief Executive, Scottish Veterans Residences, said: “This is a very welcome initiative by the City of Edinburgh Council and a great boost for those veterans wishing to settle in Edinburgh.
“Veterans are not looking for a hand out but rather a hand up and this policy will certainly help achieve this and one that we would encourage all other local authorities to emulate.
“Our service men and women have contributed immeasurably to preserving our freedoms in a way that could not have been predicted and it is beholding to us all to do everything possible to support them when they leave the services.”
Last year, there were around 25,000 people on Edinburgh’s housing waiting list, including 105 homeless veterans