BLAENAU Gwent MP Nick Smith has welcomed new guidance to councils and social housing providers on how best to support members of the armed forces.

The Royal British Legion's new Housing and Homelessness Best Practice Guide sets out how housing organisations can help keep current and former members of the forces from becoming homeless.

As housing law is different across the nations of the UK, there are three guides - one each for Wales, Scotland and England.

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Labour MP Mr Smith said: “Earlier this year I wrote to encourage local business to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, and I know there is a lot of support for this.

“As well helping those who have served to find work, we should also be doing our best to alleviate any difficulties they may have in finding housing.

“The Royal British Legion Best Practice Guide is a vital document which informs local housing authorities and other organisations how best to do this.

“I have written to local social housing providers to ask them to review and incorporate the guide into their operations as soon as possible, so that we can start to repay the debt that we owe to all members of our armed forces.”

Studies have shown tens of thousands of armed forces veterans in the UK are homeless.

Director general of the Royal British Legion, Charles Byrne, said: “No one who has served in the UK Armed Forces should face any form of homelessness and the Legion will always be here to support those in need of assistance.

"It is important to remember that we do not provide that support in isolation.

“The Legion works at its best when we work in partnership with local statutory services and other charitable organisations.

“We have therefore produced this Best Practice Guide in order to share expertise, resources, and experience between statutory services and charities.”