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Military Veterans

Volume 602: debated on Monday 23 November 2015

The Government provide a comprehensive programme of support for ex-service personnel. For those returning to civilian life, that includes an excellent resettlement package, a high-quality pension and compensation schemes and measures to meet veterans’ health and welfare needs. The armed forces covenant stresses the importance we place on ensuring that veterans are not disadvantaged as a result of their service in the armed forces.

Research shows that veterans represent the largest single cohort in the overall prison population. What is the Department doing to address the issue, and will the Minister acknowledge the significance of charities such as Care after Combat, whose Phoenix project is intended to reduce reoffending in this important group?

As my hon. Friend will know, armed forces veterans in prison are the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, but the latest figures that I have suggest that approximately 3.5% of the UK prison population are veterans. All prisoners with a military history are eligible for the full range of interventions and services that are available from the National Offender Management Service, and armed forces charities, including the Royal British Legion, SSAFA, Care after Combat and Combat Stress, send caseworkers to support veterans in some prisons.

Members of our armed forces not only put themselves in great physical danger but subject themselves to great psychological pressures in order to protect our country and our people. What is being done to help veterans of my excellent local regiment, the Mercian Regiment, and others who are struggling with mental health issues?

The MOD is determined to ensure that veterans with mental health issues are given appropriate support. NHS England spends £1.8 million a year on mental health services for veterans, including the provision of 10 veterans mental health teams. Up to a further £18 million is funding the Combat Stress six-week intensive post-traumatic stress disorder programme. Subject to the forthcoming spending review, a further £8.4 million of Government funding will be provided over the next five years.

21. What conversations have taken place with the Chancellor to discuss the impact of tax credit cuts on military families, including the families of veterans? (902277)

I am sure that the issue has been discussed, and that it will be addressed later this week when the Chancellor makes his announcement.

What support is the MOD able to give local authorities such as my own, Sutton council, which are keen to establish “homes for heroes”?

I recently announced that we were about to undertake a review of best practice. Following conversations with the chair of the Local Government Association, we intend to carry out that review to ensure that best practice is spread across local authorities throughout the United Kingdom.

The social care crisis is affecting people all over the country, including those who have sustained an injury or condition while serving our country. Those who were injured on or after 6 April 2005 receive a payment under the armed forces compensation scheme, which local authorities disregard when assessing them for social care, but those who were injured before that date receive the war pension, which is not disregarded. When will the Government address this inequality?

That is primarily a matter for the Department of Health. I have been engaging in a series of negotiations with my counterpart in that Department, and I am sure that we will report to the House in due course.