THE future looks bright for ex-servicemen in Mansfield if a pioneering deal between the district council and a social enterprise company goes ahead.
Under the scheme, ex-soldiers will enrol on a building scheme to help refurbish seven derelict houses - sold by Mansfield District Council for just £1 - on Hillmoor Street in Pleasley.
The properties will be transferred to the TREES Group (Training, Regeneration, Education, Employment and Sustainability) - which will fund the refurbishment work and training.
Mansfield-based ex-servicemen’s charity, Joint Forces Alliance Ltd, will work with TREE to place soldiers on the scheme and then plough income from renting the houses back into the charity.
Chairman Jason Rathbone said he hoped to set up a social enterprise and provide employment for the veterans once they have completed their training and are qualified in trades like plumbing and joinery.
“We can sort out their housing issues and mental health problems, but the only thing missing is being able to employ them,” he said.
“We will designate a portion of the properties to homeless ex-servicemen and as the landlord this will give us a permanent revenue stream to help more veterans and pay for volunteers.
“It means those coming out of the infantry will have long-term employment prospects.”
The seven houses had been declared surplus to housing requirements and the £1 transfer to the TREES Group will save the district council more than £150,000 in refurbishment costs.
It also falls in line with the council’s pledge to support ex-service personnel as part of the Mansfield Veterans’ Charter.
Under the terms of the deal, the organisation cannot sell the houses until five years after the transfer.
Yesterday Coun Mick Colley, the council’s portfolio holder for tenancy services and housing needs and Bull Farm and Pleasley Hill ward member, welcomed the move.
“It makes sense instead of knocking these houses down to put a training scheme into being where soldiers can come back from Afghanistan and go into a training scheme and learn new skills rather than end up on the street,” he said.
“These ex-servicemen will be taught by tradesmen to do houses up and make them into nice accommodation. At the end of the training they will have a skill they can carry forward.”
The plan has received the thumbs up from senior councillors and will be rolled out subject to approval by the Secretary of State.
Council bosses have also recommended an application to transfer two more properties, also for £1, once they become available.