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Veterans’ Mental Health and Armed Forces Covenant

Volume 650: debated on Monday 26 November 2018

6. When he last discussed the Government’s obligations for the mental health of veterans and the Armed Forces Covenant with the Secretary of State for Health. (907803)

We have regular discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care and, indeed, the Secretary of State for Health. As we just touched on, it is an important requirement that the health matters and the concerns of both veterans and armed forces personnel are met. That is not a direct responsibility of the MOD; it is a matter for the Department of Health and Social Care and we are working ever more closely with it.

Further to the issue raised by the hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main), a UK veterans’ assistance charity estimates that the number of armed forces veterans living homeless at present is in the region of 13,000. That is a figure that should give us all pause for thought, and should, I would suggest, cause us to unite politically rather to divide. Will the Minister speak to the health service, the councils and other Government Departments to get something done on this?

The hon. Gentleman shouts that it needs more than a champion; I invite him to go to his local authority and ask what it is doing about that. This is a matter that goes down to local authorities; they have responsibility. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) says that there are 13,000; we need to disaggregate between whether they are rough sleeping or homeless. In some cases there are places available, and often the veterans are not aware of the help that can be provided—and that is exactly where the armed forces champion comes into play.

Has the Minister assessed the impact on mental health of delays to appeal hearings for the armed forces compensation scheme?

We are concerned about that. We do not want to see any delay in the allocation of armed forces compensation, and if the hon. Lady has a specific issue, I will be delighted to meet her to discuss it.