Armed forces personnel are to be included in the government’s key worker programme, giving them access to cut-price housing.
Ruth Kelly, secretary for communities and local government, announced that up to 10,000 members of the Armed Forces and their families currently living in service housing in London, the South East and the East, will receive financial help to give them a first step on to the housing ladder.
They join other key workers, such as NHS clinical staff, teachers, police and probation officers.
Under the scheme military personnel will be able to buy a newly built home, paying a minimum 25% of the price and a reduced rent on the remaining cost of the home.
Members of the armed forces on operational deployments in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and a further 2,500 civilian workers at the Ministry of Defence would also qualify for assistance.
Kelly said the new support recognises that contribution the Armed Forces play in public life and their local communities.
“We know that in some areas of the country service personnel, like other key workers, have been priced out of the housing market, that is why we have put low cost home ownership programmes in place, which have supported thousands of families to buy their own homes,” she said.
“Extending key worker housing help to the military will enable many more people to meet their aspirations and get a foot onto the housing ladder,” she added.
The extension of the scheme comes days after a furore over the revelation that junior soldiers earned less than £14,000, which amounts to about £2.45 an hour for those serving long watches in the dangerous Helmand province in Afghanistan.
The new plans also come hot on the heels of the creation of a new organisation to represent the 250,000 British servicemen and women in the Armed Forces.
The British Armed Forces Federation (Baff) says it is not a union but will promote the interests of those serving, as well as veterans.
Independent evaluation of the key workers initiative published today shows the programme has had a positive impact in retaining public sector staff. Up to now, more than 22,000 key workers have been helped into low cost home ownership.
Six out of 10 key workers who have been given support to buy their own homes said they were more likely to stay in their occupations.