Many deserving cases on register

As EAST Devon District Council's councillor responsible for housing, I was touched by the case of the young soldier who is being medically discharged from the Army.

As EAST Devon District Council's councillor responsible for housing, I was touched by the case of the young soldier who is being medically discharged from the Army. This case (of which I was aware) raises several issues that illustrate clearly how difficult it is for councils to help people in genuine housing need. I have the greatest sympathy with this young man, who wishes to live among his family and friends after leaving the Army for medical reasons.EDDC officers have done their very best to help him - within the very tight constraints placed on councils by the current housing allocation system. We end up rationing housing to the most 'deserving' cases.We have no immediate council property to offer this family - even if it were in our power to give them precedence over other deserving cases. Such difficult decisions have to be taken by council housing officers every week - which is why they must be guided by legislation, government policy and a fair, transparent allocation procedure.In trying to accommodate him, we suggested helping him find a home in the private rental market, as we have done for other deserving cases. This is not "pushing" him into the letting market, but offering him a viable and reasonable option in his home town while no council home is available. We have explained our duties to this applicant and are attempting to prevent his homelessness. We will assist him with housing should he become homeless in the future. The Army has a duty towards discharged service personnel and the applicant's frustration seems to be directed towards his employers and the Government.There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in East Devon. I have been calling on the Government to give back to EDDC the �5.8 million housing subsidy it takes from us every year, so we can invest the money in building new homes for local families. My call has so far fallen on deaf ears.The Government is not doing enough and we ask to be given the resources locally to provide more affordable housing.My heart goes out to single people, young couples and families who are unable to afford a home in our district. There are many deserving cases on our housing register and we want to do something to help them. All too often our hands are tied.We may be painted as the big, bad, impersonal local authority refusing to help a deserving client, but it's too easy to hurl such insults.I call on our politicians at Westminster to take a long, hard look at how the current structure works, or rather is NOT working. Then maybe we would be able to provide homes for more local families - including young men and women who have fought for their country and deserve a decent home.Councillor Miss Jill Elson,Portfolio Holder Communities, 23 Hazeldene Gardens, Exmouth.


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