Veterans Care Sector: Government Role

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:27 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 6:27 pm, 25th October 2016

I am certainly the only Minister with the word “veterans” in his title and I am certainly prepared to say that I take the lead on veterans matters. I would argue, however, that all Ministers in government should have our veterans on their mind and do what they can to support them. So, yes I am happy to take the lead, yes I am happy to have the title in my portfolio, and yes I am happy to try to ensure that all my ministerial colleagues also show the same interest. However, I would not want to be Minister with sole responsibility for veterans, for the reasons I gave when I answered my hon. Friend Mr Gray.

I recognise that the Ministry of Defence has a responsibility to ensure that the transition from service to civilian life is as smooth as possible, allowing service personnel process to draw upon the vast array of transferable skills they have obtained in service, but I am not for one second saying that there is not more that could and should be done. I believe firmly that effective transition to civilian life is a major factor in ensuring effective care. I must emphasise that most service leavers transition well to civilian life through our robust and effective resettlement system known as the career transition partnership, which in 2014-15 helped 85% of service leavers to find sustainable employment within six months.

Despite that, I recognise that there is a small percentage of service leavers who do not make a smooth transition. These are the people we must work hard to identify and support. This is also why I am keen to include a question on veterans in the national census. That will help us to identify the veteran community. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View that I will continue to pursue this energetically with the Office for National Statistics and the chief statistician.