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 would be delighted to look at that model and see whether we can learn any lessons from it.

The aim is that this system will provide confidence for a small number of individuals and their families that their clinical, health and social support needs will continue to be met when they leave the armed forces and for the rest of their lives.

On the point about a single point of contact for veterans, I have good news for my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View. The armed forces covenant fund has £10 million each year to support the covenant by funding projects that address specific priorities, one of those being the creation of a veterans gateway. The aim of this initiative is to provide a single point of contact via a fully transactional website and one telephone number, together providing an information clearing house that takes into account the needs of all veterans, wherever they may be located. An announcement will be made very shortly on the preferred bidder for this contract, with this facility being launched during 2017. Further to that, there is the armed forces covenant website itself, which both serving and former serving personnel may access.

I am the first to recognise that the support of our veterans and the services that are provided for their welfare are not perfect. Nothing is, but I, like my hon. Friend, and indeed all hon. Members here tonight—it is a very good showing for an end-of-day Adjournment debate—am determined to do more. For example, the Department for Communities and Local Government is doing important work on supported housing, ensuring that local authorities have afforded priority where it is due. The DCLG has also introduced various measures to improve access to social housing for members of the service community, including veterans. That includes changing the law to ensure that local authorities always give seriously injured service personnel and veterans with urgent housing needs high priority in the provision of social housing. As for health, NHS England is introducing new initiatives in mental health services for veterans, the details of which contain expert input from MOD officials. Those are just a few examples of the collaborative work that we are undertaking throughout the Government.