Jeremy Hunt unveiled a new £33million package to support veterans yesterday in what will be a “huge uplift” for British heroes, Tory MPs have told Express.co.uk. The new package will double the Office for Veterans’ Affairs budget and boost investment across both housing and healthcare.
The Government considers the Chancellor’s announcement as a step change in Whitehall’s ability to provide support and care for men and women who have served the United Kingdom.
The plan will increase the capacity of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs by £10million as Rishi Sunak’s Government also continues to deliver the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan.
Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer told Express.co.uk: “The unprecedented funding announced by the Chancellor today will provide a real step change in the provision of veterans services in this country and cement this Government’s reputation for supporting our veterans well into the future.”
The Plymouth Moor View MP, who previously served as a Captain in the British Army, added: “From housing to health, we will make the UK the best country in the world to be a veteran.”
Seriously injured veterans will have access to an extra £3million as the Government vowed to provide better access to additional mobility equipment.
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Mr Hunt’s first Budget will also ensure £20million goes to the new Veterans Housing Capital Fund over three years.
The extra cash will modernise, rebuild and expand the UK’s veteran housing network.
The roll-out of the funds will come in two stages with upgrades to existing housing stock coming in the first year and an increase in the supply of accommodation available to veterans and their families coming thereafter.
Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton welcomed the Chancellor’s funding announcement, saying it will provide a “huge uplift” to support veterans.
The former Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families added: “The Government is doing more in this space than any of its predecessors, and certainly more than Labour ever would.”
Following Mr Hunt’s Budget, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs revealed organisations will soon be able to bid for funds from a pot of £8.55million to address homelessness.
Funds will be awarded to organisations from as early as May, a Government insider has confirmed.
Backbench Conservatives appear supportive of Hunt’s proposal and believe it could make a real difference in providing support for former military personnel.
Beckenham MP and former Army Colonel Bob Stewart told Express.co.uk: “I’ve long been clear that veterans need stronger protections against homelessness, so it’s great to see a Government finally delivering millions of pounds of ring-fenced funding for veterans’ housing.”
However, the Liberal Democrats have suggested the announcement has come far too late and might not be sufficient enough to support all veterans.
Former Major Richard Foord, who entered the Commons after the Liberal Democrats romped to victory in Tiverton and Honiton last year, told Express.co.uk: “This funding is long overdue; veterans and their families have been neglected for far too long.
“This has to just be the start of a fair deal for veterans.
“I have had a veteran seeking housing help and camped in a car outside my office.
“This announcement might not be enough to help former service personnel like him.
“Those who serve in the armed forces make huge sacrifices for our country and we must ensure that they are treated properly.”
Mr Hunt’s latest cash injection for ex-military personnel comes after the Government pledged to end veteran rough sleeping by the end of the year.
Express.co.uk has also approached the Labour Party for comment.