HASC Christmas Closures
The Housing Allocations Service Centre (HASC) telephone lines will close at 12:00 on Thursday 19 December, reopening at 08:30 on 6 January 2014. Move In and Move Out appointments will also not be available during this period.
Whilst staff will not be taking calls or appointments during this period, some will remain in the HASC and some local housing staff will continue undertaking other housing duties.
As usual, the maintenance helpdesks will remain open for the duration of the Christmas period, and in an emergency can direct customer enquiries as appropriate.
HASC Temporary Telephone Line Closures: November/December
DIO Home Front Newsletter
Click here to read the latest edition of the Home front newsletter, produced for those living in Service Family Accommodation. It is published by the accommodation providers, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), each edition contains useful information and updates.
New Home Loan Scheme for Service Personnel
The Secretary of State has announced a new £200m scheme to help Service personnel who want to buy their first home. From April 2014 ‘Forces Help to Buy’ will be trialled for 3 years. It will offer Regular personnel loans of up to 50% of their salary, capped at £25,000, interest-free and repayable over a 10-year period.
Charges for Damages to Service Family Accommodation: New Process
When Service personnel move out of UK Service Family Accommodation or Substitute Service Family Accommodation, charges may be payable for damages or deficiencies that are not classed as fair wear and tear, or because customers have failed to prepare the property to the correct standard.
From 1 October 2013, a process for taking charges direct from pay will be introduced; the new process will apply to serving personnel only. Click here for guidance on how the process works, including the dispute resolution process.
The Bedroom Tax Explained
There are a huge number of benefit changes occurring in 2013. One that’s caused a lot of controversy is the change to Housing Benefit, often called the Bedroom Tax. Click here for details.
Notifications for Service Family Accommodation Occupants
Listening to YOU: Service Families Accommodation
Improvements to Accommodation Make for Bonnie Homes on the Clyde
Service Families Accommodation: Vouchers for Missed Maintenance Appointments
Offers to Improve Energy Efficiency: Such as the Green Deal
Various companies advertise offers to improve the energy efficiency of your home, including Government initiatives such as the Green Deal. However, before customers in Service Family Accommodation are tempted to take advantage of these offers they should very carefully read the terms and conditions of the offer so they understand their liability and any liability placed on the property. Click here for further details.
Service Families Accommodation (SFA): 2nd Offers
From 1 May 2013, in the event of the 1st offer of SFA being rejected for personal reasons, the Housing Allocations Service Centre (HASC) will now make a 2nd offer with 15 working days. Previous policy did not establish a deadline to provide a second offer.
Local Assistance for those in Service Families Accommodation
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and MODern Housing Solutions (MHS) recognise the need to provide a means for Service families to talk face-to-face with DIO and MHS staff locally about their Service Families Accommodation issues. Following successful trials, Customer Assistance Points are being established in key locations around the country. Click here for details.
Service Family Accommodation: Free safety checks to protect your family
Click here to find out about two new policies concerning retention of Service Family Accommodation. Changes have been made to make it easier for Spouses on adult educational courses to retain their SFA to allow them to finish their training course, and to allow spouses to work their period of notice with their employer, when moving to accompany their Service person on a new posting. Certain criteria must be met to retain the accommodation.
Survey Results: Service Families Accommodation Disability/Additional Needs Adaptation Process
Housing forms a large proportion of the requests for assistance that come into the NFF. Housing continues to be the Army Families Federation’s (AFF) most reported issue. A considerable proportion of AFF housing issues concern additional needs and adaptation of Service Families Accommodation (SFA). There has also been much anecdotal evidence regarding the adaptation process, so the AFF ran a survey to collect concrete evidence. Click here for details.
MODern Housing Solutions (MHS) Now Offer Text Message Reminders
Changes to the Service Families Accommodation (SFA) Complaints Process
As of 1 October 2012 the process through which to make a complaint to DIO Operations Accommodation has changed. Click here for details.
Free Insulation and Lower Energy Bills: SFA in England and Wales
The MOD is undertaking a new insulation programme for SFA in England and Wales. Properties in the most need are being targeted, so if your property is included you will receive a letter that requires you to book or confirm an appointment. Work will include the installation of cavity wall insulation and/or improved loft insulation – dependent on the properties requirements. Teams will be in your location for a limited time only and unable to come back to an area. Don’t miss out – book your appointment as soon as you receive a letter!
Defence Select Committee Publish Second Report on the Armed Forces Covenant in Action: Accommodation
The MOD is sending the wrong signals to Forces families about the value it places on providing good accommodation, says the Defence Select Committee in its report on Forces Accommodation, published 26 June 2012. Service personnel see the provision of proper housing as fundamental to the Armed Forces Covenant. Click for details.
New Self Preference System for Service Families Accommodation Applications
The new e-1132 self-preference system is now live. The new automated system will improve the allocation process for Service families. Families can track their applications and receive quicker responses to requests through the dedicated online service. Families can express a preference for available SFA properties that match entitlement and posting location, and will have access to more information on properties, including photographs and floor plans. The new system also allows families to self-book all appointments relating to their move, once an allocation has been made.
Housing Information Centres (HICs) Become the Housing Allocations Service Centre (HASC)
From April 2012 the eight Housing Information Centres (HICs) that have responsibility for the allocation of all Service Families Accommodation (SFA) in the UK, have been centralised and renamed the HASC (Housing Allocation Service Centre). The HASC will be split over two sites in Aldershot and Thetford. The Aldershot office will handle allocation for the South, South East (including London) and South West. The Thetford office will handle the East, West and North, including Scotland.
The phone number remains the same: 0800 169 6322, however, the HASC is currently running reduced telephone opening hours of 08:30 – 13:00 until advised otherwise. This is because it is in the middle of managing the transition of work from the Housing Information Centres, and the clearance of new staff continues to be affected by restrictions on security vetting. As such there is a shortage of staff available to handle telephone calls and allocations, and families may experience difficulties when contacting the Centre. If you have problems contacting the HASC the NFF would like to know. Click here for the HASC area map, which displays the areas covered by the HASC teams, and their contact details.
The New Employment Model and the Future Provision of Service Family Accommodation
Message by Rear Admiral D G Steel CBE, Naval Secretary and Chief of Staff (Personnel)
The Times newspaper published an article on Monday 27 February 2012 entitled “Families to lose homes under new defence cuts”.
The article asserted that married soldiers living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) – and therefore, by implication, Naval Service and Royal Air Force personnel also living in SFA - are to be forced out of their homes under cost-cutting proposals currently being considered by the MOD; this is not the case. The New Employment Model is looking at a range of measures connected with the provision of support to Service personnel from 2020, including accommodation, but has not reached any conclusions. Click here for further details.
NFF Comment: Future Provision of Service Family Accommodation
You may have read some rather worrying articles about the future of housing and in particular Service Families Accommodation in The Times, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. A newspaper reporting in this way is not helpful and is causing unnecessary alarm for our families.
The NFF has been actively engaged in the discussions about the future of housing under the Future Accommodation Project for some time now, as has the Royal Navy. We ran a survey last year that over 2,000 Naval Service families contributed to. Please be reassured that the MOD and Ministers are fully aware of your views on housing. What has become very clear is that the housing situation cannot stay the way it is now. The money required to do what everyone would like is not there so how housing provision pans out IN THE FUTURE must be considered and looked at from every angle. Our job is to ensure your views are considered, your job is to tell us what they are.
Pause in SFA upgrade and SLA modernisation programmes
Significant progress in improving Service accommodation has been made in recent years. Despite the current financial challenges, the MOD will continue to target efforts on the most pressing accommodation issues, including major upgrades and new build projects. However, as part of the Department’s work to reduce the funding gap and balance Defence priorities, from April 2013 there will be a three-year pause in the programme to upgrade lower quality SFA homes. Some Single Living Accommodation upgrade programmes will also be put on hold. The MOD will continue to fund routine and response maintenance and minor new works. The future requirement of accommodation for the Armed Forces returning from Germany, and other rebasing plans, will not be affected.Click here for further details including a helpful Questions & Answers document and a comment from the NFF.
Service Personnel Able to Establish a 'Local Connection'
In December 2008 the Government amended the Housing Act to ensure that Service Personnel are now entitled to establish a local connection in the same way as civilians. This will advantage serving and ex-serving personnel for the purposes of applying for homelessness assistance or an application for social housing.
To read a letter on this subject, written by the Department for Communities and Local Government, please click here. For further information please contact the authors of this letter.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 11:43|