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Veteran Support

Volume 503: debated on Monday 11 January 2010

13. What arrangements his Department has put in place to assist veterans injured in service to access the services of Jobcentre Plus employment advisers when the veteran is in receipt of a veteran’s pension provided by the Veterans Agency; and if he will make a statement. (309577)

The veterans welfare service is available through the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency to all veterans and their families. For those leaving the service as a result of serious injury or illness, locally based welfare managers, working closely with service charities, provide practical advice and assistance and will act as gateways for the services provided by other Government Departments, including Jobcentre Plus and the Benefits Agency.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he look again at the case of Mr. William Harvey? After 17 years of distinguished service in the British Army, during which he was injured on three occasions, in Bosnia and in Northern Ireland, he has been in receipt of Veterans Agency support as compensation for his injuries, but he is therefore unable to receive jobseeker’s allowance. The jobseeker’s allowance rules appear to bar him from receiving the support of jobseekers’ advisers in gaining new employment. This policy muddle should be addressed.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising that issue, and a similar case was raised when I met veterans the other day. I am working on this, alongside other issues concerning overlapping policies, with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions, and we will make an announcement in February.

The Minister will no doubt be aware that in the Army, and in particular in the combat units, battalions and regiments are rapidly filling up with lesser-injured men and women who are nevertheless not capable of deploying on operations. What are we going to do with these people? There must be fresh thinking on this, and I wonder what the Minister has in mind.

This morning, the Minister of State, Department of Health, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien) and I announced initiatives on giving a lifetime guarantee to the severely injured in respect of the transition into the health service and support for life. In respect of the individuals to whom the hon. Gentleman refers, I am currently engaged in a piece of work and an announcement will be made in February.