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Support for Veterans

Volume 703: debated on Monday 15 November 2021

9. What recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of support available for veterans throughout the UK. (904131)

The Government are committed to delivering a gold standard of care for our veterans. We have made huge progress in recent years, with tangible benefits such as the veterans railcard, the bespoke mental health care pathway, tax breaks for those employing veterans and guaranteed job interviews for veterans applying to join the civil service. But there is more to do, which is why we are putting the armed forces covenant into law and why I will be announcing the veterans strategy next month.

The Veterans Charity, which is based in North Devon, helps hundreds of veterans across the UK each year, and would like to thank the MOD for supporting its routes of remembrance event, which involved many veterans and service personnel around the nation. The Veterans Charity received many referrals from the excellent Op Courage teams. Will the Minister clarify what plans there are for more comprehensive coverage from this service across North Devon and the south-west, where there are many veterans living in remote areas who need and deserve greater mental health support?

I am pleased to put on record my thanks to the Veterans Charity for its amazing work. I was pleased to contribute to the routes of remembrance event and to dispatch a wreath from Aldershot along with the mayor and garrison commander. We are rightly increasing the budget for Op Courage to more than £20 million this year. An important component of that healthcare is the accreditation of local GPs, so I hope that my hon. Friend is exploring that prospect in North Devon.

Last week it was revealed that hundreds of veterans face pension cuts of up to £600 a year due to computer error, with no right to appeal. As the cost of living rises under this Government, what is the Minister doing to support those ex-forces personnel who now cannot afford basics like heating and food due to administrative incompetence?

I have absolute responsibility for that, and I am liaising closely with Veterans UK to ensure that those people who have served us get the support and encouragement they need.