Veterans are being” failed” by the Tories on psychological health, real estate and tasks on civvy street, Labour claims today.
MPs vote tonight on the Second Reading of the Armed Forces Bill, which the Government states will “assist prevent service personnel and veterans being disadvantaged when accessing services like healthcare, education and real estate”.
However Labour pointed to a series of concerns where it believes heroes are being let down– and says the legislation is a “missed out on chance to make the Covenant a truth “.
Shadow Defence Minister Stephen Morgan highlighted pledges on troops’ well-being already contained in the Covenant, which says:” Veterans needs to be able to access psychological health professionals who have an understanding of Armed Forces culture. “
However he pointed out data revealing the average waiting time for in person visits to be offered under veterans’ Shift, Intervention and Liaison psychological health services in England was 37 days in 2020, versus a federal government target of 14.
It took 70 days for treatment to begin.
He also highlighted research study by King’s College London released last August showing that compared to males in the general population, British male veterans “report a higher prevalence of typical mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse”.
On housing, the annual Army Continuous Mindset Survey 2020 showed just 51%of personnel were satisfied with the standard of their service accommodation– a drop from 58%in 2014.
Yet the Covenant says: “Where Serving personnel are entitled to openly supplied accommodation, it needs to be of great quality, inexpensive and appropriately situated.”
The Mirror exposed on the weekend how three out of five soldiers requesting aid to get on the home ladder through the Forces Aid to Purchase plan were turned down.
Labour also pointed to figures published last month about servicemen and females getting tasks on civvy street having actually left the Forces using the Ministry of Defence’s Career Transition Collaboration.
According to a Whitehall report, “of the 2019/20 UK routine service leavers who used a billable CTP service, and reported their work outcomes 6 months after leaving service”, seven percent were out of work in 2019/20
That compared with average joblessness in the UK as a whole of about four per cent over the duration.
Mr Morgan said: “Ministers like to talk up their commitment to our service communities but the reality is they are failing our forces.
” From subpar lodging to veterans’ psychological health, there are unfortunately numerous locations where the admirable commitments made in the Army Covenant are not the reality experienced by our Armed Forces.
” Labour stands firmly behind our Army, and supports the objective of this Costs, but will challenge the Federal government to make certain it delivers on the Covenant in full for every single member of our militaries, veterans and their families.”
Johnny Mercer stated:” This memorable Costs develops on the essential progress already made by the Army Covenant, by offering it the legal standing to provide fairness for our Armed Forces community right throughout the UK.
” This legislation will prevent the Army Community being disadvantaged in the shipment of public-services, which is why we have appropriately focussed it on healthcare, education and housing.
” The Labour Party are aware of this once again have shown they are more thinking about appearing patriotic than supporting legislation that will have a genuine effect for our troops.”