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Armed Forces Provisions – Community Covenants 

The following information has been supplied by South Hams District Council

Armed Forces Provisions
Some of the services provided by South Hams and West Devon have special provisions aimed at assisting our residents who are currently serving or have served in the armed forces. Many of these provisions are derived from central government legislation, whereas others are the result of local decisions made.

Benefits
For Housing Benefit, legislation states that £10 of a claimant’s war pension is disregarded when calculating entitlement. Both West Devon and South Hams have gone further and disregard all war pension income for both Housing Benefit and the new Council Tax Support Scheme.

Council Tax
Second Homes - Service families living in MOD accommodation, who also pay council tax on their own properties, automatically receive a 50% reduction in council tax on their own property, providing it is not rented out.

Serving personnel - All armed forces personnel deployed on operations overseas, who normally pay council tax, now benefit from a tax-free payment paid directly by the Ministry of Defence towards the cost of their council tax for the duration of their deployment.

Long-term empty properties - From 1st April 2013 both West Devon and South Hams will charge an empty home premium of an additional 50% on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years. The regulations that gives local authorities this discretion also states that the premium cannot apply to homes that are empty due to the occupant living in armed forces accommodation for job-related purposes.

Housing
To comply with the Allocation of Housing Regulations 2012 under both the Devon Home Choice and our own local lettings policies, local connection criteria is not be applied to;

(a) members of the Armed Forces and former Service personnel, where the application is made within five years of discharge
(b) bereaved spouses and civil partners of members of the Armed Forces leaving Services Family Accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner
(c) serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service

However where there are more specific local connection criteria such as S106 agreements and local letting plans the local connection criteria may still apply to members and former members of the armed and reserve forces.

Also the Housing Act 1996 has been amended to ensure that allocation policies are framed so as to give reasonable preference to the following members and former members of the armed forces who have a urgent housing need:

(a) former members of the Armed Forces
(b) serving members of the Armed Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service
(c) bereaved spouses and civil partners of members of the Armed Forces leaving Services Family Accommodation following the death of their spouse or partner
(d) serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service

People who fall into the above categories will be banded according to need. However where it has been assessed that they do not have a permanent home they will have their application awarded a higher band than would normally be applied to their application.

Rough Sleepers
The governments ’No Second Night Out’ initiative, which is aimed at getting rough sleepers off the streets will help former members on the armed forces who might be sleeping rough. We will provide accommodation and support so that they remain off the streets.
http://www.nosecondnightout.org.uk/contact-us/