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New report finds Government “not doing enough” for military charities to support veterans

Portsmouth MP welcomes report findings and new support for charities but says government must now ‘provide proof in the delivery’

Statistics collated by the solicitor’s firm Bolt Burdon Kemp and Veterans Lifeline have revealed the lack of mental health support military veterans receive from government amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The data comes as the government today announced some funding for veterans’ charities, but questions remain about what delivery looks like and whether government should be providing services for veterans rather than helping charities.

On the support announced by government today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome that government has taken notice of what I and others have been saying that we need an urgent plan to address the feeling of abandonment among some in the veteran community.

However, it does leave a number of questions unanswered. How long will it take for payments to be made to charities? Who is eligible for the grants? When will the difference be seen at the coalface?

Had these announcements come earlier these are questions we could have posed at today’s departmental questions. I will continue to work with colleagues in the Shadow Defence team to make sure government not only promises improvement, but delivers for our nation’s veterans.”

The research published today includes the lack of mental health support with only 26% of charities thinking that the government supports the mental health of veterans; not enough overall support – 74% of charities say that the government and armed forces are not doing enough to support veterans; and; government and armed Forces’ onus – 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

On the statistics Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Sadly, these statistics do not come as a surprise. They reflect what the Shadow Defence team are hearing after listening to veterans’ charities and groups as were raised in Defence Questions today.

Social isolation, financial turmoil and pressure on mental health resulting from this pandemic means that support for our veterans’ community is needed now more than ever. It is therefore deeply concerning that government has closed services such as the Veterans UK helpline and urged some ex forces personnel who may be older to instead get in touch by email on by using the app.

The fact this decision has been made against the backdrop of VE Day, Captain Tom making ground-breaking contributions to our NHS, and our service personnel playing a crucial role in combating Covid-19, sends out the wrong message to our armed forces who continue to go above and beyond for the nation.”

The Ministry of Defence has cut support to veteran services, including the telephone helpline leaving thousands of potentially vulnerable ex-forces personnel without anyone to talk to.

Officials admit that more than 2,000 veterans have been forced to email for help instead of calling the MoD. They have also stopped processing new applications for war pensions, war widow pensions and compensation, and appeals have been postponed.

Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP added:

“Closing the Veterans UK helpline and asking older veterans who could be in their eighties or nineties to send an email instead is not good enough. Ministers should make it a priority to safely restart this service for those who need it”.