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Bromley Council's failure to house ex-army woman 'ridiculous' and 'unfair'
A WOMAN who spent six years in the British army - including one full tour of Afghanistan - is being denied social housing by Bromley Council, in a move she has branded "ridiculous" and "completely unfair".
Private Lauren Dobbs, 23, was a military dog handler in the Vet Corps - a job that involves handling specialist dogs capable of detecting arms and explosives - and last November, after six years of service, she decided to leave.
However six months on and her plans to start an independent life have been scuppered by the failure of the council to find her a place to live.
She claims that all they have been able to offer is a night shelter, and only in circumstances when it is below 0°C.
She said: "I think it is just ridiculous - I am very annoyed but there is nothing I can do.
"It is completely unfair - I have colleagues in the army who have had to rejoin, or have not been able to leave, because they have not been homed."
Fortunately Ms Dobbs, who wants to become a personal trainer and is currently studying with the Personal Trainer Academy, has been able to stay with her mother, but she has been angered by the council's failure to look after her.
She said: “I left because I wanted to move on and do other things.
"The army was what I had always wanted to do and after that the personal training.
“But the fact you are not paid much in the army makes it harder when you leave.”
Her mother, Michelle Lynn, 47, of Hill Crest Road, Biggin Hill, said: "My daughter's friends have had their limbs blown off, they have been killed and this is all the council can do.
"It is not good enough - my daughter was fighting for her country, it is disgraceful that they treat someone who fights for their country like this.
"When soldiers leave the army they cannot afford a mortgage, their wages are atrocious - what are they supposed to do?"
In a statement Bromley Council said: "It is not appropriate to discuss someone’s individual circumstances but we can confirm our approach is to work with a person faced with homelessness and with their families to help prevent this happening.
"This includes giving advice and guidance and helping them look at the different housing options that are available.
"We work with a person to establish their circumstances and whether they are priority need under existing housing legislation."
The government's stance
When David Cameron came to power he promised a change in legislation that would see local authorities give priority to ex-forces personnel - who can end up in poor quality rented homes or even homeless.
However, he has failed to stand by this promise.
According to gov.uk ex-armed forces remain on an equal footing to others when applying for social housing - they cannot ‘queue jump’ others on the social housing waiting list.
Where they still have an entitlement to MOD accommodation, they are treated the same as anybody else who is suitably housed but wish to apply for social housing - at low priority.