Figures showing the extent of homelessness among veterans across Wiltshire are not the full picture says the man behind the Veterans Hub Swindon.

Statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show Wiltshire Council let properties to 53 armed forces personnel in urgent need of housing in 2019.

For the first three months of last year 450 people who have served in the armed forces were identified as statutorily homeless by local authority housing services across England.

However, Wiltshire housing services only recognized seven veterans at risk of homelessness during the same time period.

Graham Stobbs, who set up the group to provide support to ex-forces personnel in and around Swindon said: “The number of veterans needing a home could actually be higher.

“We’re dealing with several who are homeless right now and many more are sofa surfing and living on the border of being homeless.”

Local authorities are obliged to give preference to applicants who are homeless or in dire need of housing, with extra weight given to people who have served the country.

Nationwide just 921 armed forces personnel let a council property by preferential treatment last year.

“Veterans are feeling very let down at the moment,” Graham added.

“The risk of becoming homeless adds a huge amount of pressure when you’ve been in the forces and you come out, back to civilian life. It’s a completely different world and then having housing issues adds even more pressure,” he said.

Local authorities are being called on to honour the commitment to homeless veterans made in the Armed Forces Covenant which many, including Wiltshire Council, signed up to.

Co-Chair of Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities) Housing Cluster brigadier James Richardson said the agreement had not filtered down to how councils apply it.

He said: "We want local authorities to have a better understanding of the AFC so that all staff know what it is and what their responsibilities are. We think that’s missing in some areas."

“A lot of local authorities don’t even ask if someone is a veteran. Therefore it’s very hard to deliver the AFC requirements when they don’t even ask the basic questions."

He added the AFC aims to provide “fairness not favourability” to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who have served, but they are unable to make fair these disadvantages if councils are not fully informed.

A Government spokesman said a significant number of councils do not own Housing Revenue Account (HRA) stock, meaning they are not required to report it, or related figures such as lettings.

They said: “No-one should be homeless, least of all someone who has served their country.

“This is why we’ve put in place an additional £1 million fund to boost support for vulnerable veterans who are, or at risk of becoming, homeless.”

The £1m funding, announced in March last year, can be used to develop new services, or support them in engaging with existing services including access to supported housing and mental health provision.

The Veterans Hub Swindon will be holding their next meeting at the TA Army Centre on Saturday, February 29 between 10am-12pm for anyone who needs help and support.