Armed Forces Covenant

Part of Bombardier – in the House of Commons at 12:13 pm on 22nd November 2018.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 12:13 pm, 22nd November 2018

My hon. Friend mentions two issues, on which I share his concern. On clinical commissioning groups, I am aware that, when service personnel are transferred from one locality to another, they do not necessarily gain the same access to medication for their children, which they need. It is very serious if children move to a new location and cannot get their medication and that must change—we must address that issue. He also mentioned businesses. The big and small businesses with which we are working and which have signed up to the covenant are providing flexibility on contracts. For example, those who are mobilised to go to Afghanistan are allowed to cancel their mobile phone contract without fear of penalty because those companies have signed up to the covenant. Those are practical examples of how businesses can provide support and not penalise people because of their service.

I touched on some of the changes that have been introduced in the past few years of which we can be proud. First, part of the support provided for charities is the introduction of the gateway—the single portal that allows any veteran, and their families, to identify where support might be found in myriad areas, be that housing, homelessness, writing a CV or employment. The veterans’ gateway provides a single access locality so that myriad charities that can help can be identified in a much simpler way than in the past, when perhaps it was a bit confusing to know which way to turn.

The second change—this is very much thanks to the Defence Secretary—is the launch of the 24/7 helpline for serving personnel and veterans. It is critical that people know where they can turn to for help, no matter what time it is, day or night, and no matter the situation.