Jeremy Corbyn says 'scourge' of homelessness among armed forces veterans must end

Labour leader says PM must create register for homeless ex-servicemen and women

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 10 November 2018 23:38 GMT
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Mr Corbyn will mark Remembrance Sunday by outlining his party’s ‘social contract’ for veterans
Mr Corbyn will mark Remembrance Sunday by outlining his party’s ‘social contract’ for veterans

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the “scourge” of rough sleeping among armed forces veterans as he calls on Theresa May to officially register the number of homeless ex-servicemen and women.

It comes as Mr Corbyn – alongside past and present leaders of other major political parties – prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War at the Cenotaph in central London on Remembrance Sunday.

The Labour leader will mark the historic occasion by outlining his party’s “social contract” for veterans, including provisions for free education and treating mental health issues as “seriously as physical health issues”.

He will also call on ministers to use the government’s “long overdue” Veterans Strategy – due to be published later this month – to officially record the number of homeless veterans in the UK, including statistics on those who take their own lives.

While there are no official figures available, various charities offer vastly different estimates and many concentrate on London, which Labour says highlights the need for official measures.

The Royal British Legion charity suggests the proportion of homeless veterans among London’s homeless population is believed to be around six per cent – around 1,100.

Mr Corbyn said: “On Remembrance Sunday, we commemorate all those killed in war as we strive for a world of peace. We must also think of our veterans and the shocking lack of support far too many receive.

“Let today spur us into action, to give our veterans the security and support they deserve with a new social contract for veterans.

"The next Labour government will guarantee armed forces personnel the opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service.

“We will do the right thing by ending the scourge of rough sleeping and helping veterans embark on new careers.”

He added that the psychological effects of war “can be devastating” and that while many organisations offered support, “charity alone is not enough”.

Labour’s shadow defence secretary, Nia Griffith, added: “In spite of the best efforts of many of those working in the sector, too many veterans are still not getting the support they need.

“The government’s long overdue Veterans Strategy needs to be far-reaching and properly funded. It must strengthen the transition phases and implement proper joined-up thinking to ensure that no veteran who needs support falls through the net.”

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