Wounded soldiers win priority for social homes

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The Independent Online

War veterans with serious injuries will receive priority access to specially adapted social housing, the Government will announce today.

The Housing minister, Iain Wright, is instructing councils to ensure wounded former servicemen and women do not have to queue for homes designed for the disabled. Wounded veterans will be fast-tracked into homes with entry slopes for wheelchairs, wider door frames and lowered light switches.

The guidelines also aim to ensure all past and present members of the armed forces can apply for social housing in areas in which they were based.

The announcements form part of the Ministry of Defence Service Personnel Command paper, a cross-government package developed in response to concern – expressed in this newspaper by the Victoria Cross holder Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry – that not enough was being done for veterans.

Mr Wright said: "It is right that our servicemen and women who are seriously injured fighting for their country are given the housing support they deserve. We are determined to ensure [they] are recognised for their heroic efforts and helped in their transition to civilian life and getting a home." The Defence minister Kevan Jones said injured veterans deserved to be "rewarded for their sacrifice with the best possible package of support". He added: "It is only right that they are given top priority for specially adapted homes to ensure they and their families can live in the best possible accommodation."

Chris Simpkins, the director general of the Royal British Legion, said: "We welcome this decision, which will be of real benefit to those who have given so much for their country."

Jerome Church, the general secretary of the British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association, said the initiatives "are very much in line with our view that looking after those seriously injured and disabled in the service of our country is the job of the whole country".

He said veterans injured in training should receive the same consideration. This had long been the case for assessing compensation and war pensions.