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Lenders support military covenant housing initiative


Published: 17 May 2011 | Author: Bernard Clarke

Housing minister Grant Shapps has unveiled plans to improve access to privately owned and social housing as part of proposals to reinforce the military covenant between the nation and its armed forces.

Announcing a series of proposals at a meeting on Monday attended by the CML and a range of other bodies, Mr Shapps said he wanted to prioritise service men and women under the government’s FirstBuy Scheme, look at how service personnel could benefit from other first-time buyer initiatives, and address credit scoring issues that can affect mortgage applications by serving men and women.

At Monday’s meeting, which was attended by builders, councils, defence officials and representatives of services’ charities, as well as lender representatives, Mr Shapps also outlined a series of proposals to improve access for service men and women to social housing, including:

  • fairer treatment for military personnel applying to live in housing controlled by councils;
  • making sure national planning rules have enough flexibility to allow disabled ex-service men and women to occupy homes that suit their needs;
  • better co-ordination between the government and charities to tackle homelessness among ex-services personnel;
  • helping more ex-service staff to bring forward self-build housing projects; and
  • working with the Ministry of Defence to ensure surplus land released for development can be used for housing that benefits ex-service personnel.

At Monday’s meeting, the CML confirmed the industry supports measures to help overcome barriers to home-ownership for military personnel.

On the mortgage application process, lenders accept the over-arching principle that serving men and women should not be disadvantaged by their military service.

In practice, this means lenders should ensure that their systems do not reject applications because they come from British Forces Post Office addresses, take applications from military staff out of their automated processes where it is appropriate, and reinforce internal policies and procedures for communicating to their own front line staff and intermediary networks how to treat applications from military personnel.

In parallel, the industry is producing ‘top tips’ for prospective borrowers from the services to help them with key elements of the mortgage application process.  Further details will follow shortly following discussions with the Ministry of Defence.