The Independent’s Homeless Veterans campaign for ex-servicemen and women who have fallen on hard times was given another boost today, with a £250,000 donation from the Government.
The money came from a fine imposed on the Ministry of Defence for breaching rules aimed at clamping down on tax avoidance.
Unveiling the donation, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “Our veterans are the best of the best, and they deserve the best of help if they hit a difficult patch in their lives. I salute [this] inspiring campaign and am delighted to be able to announce this money.”
The donation brings the total raised by the campaign to at least £1.25m.
Money from the appeal goes to two charities – Veterans Aid and ABF the Soldiers’ Charity – which help former forces personnel who have hit rock bottom, and work to prevent others from reaching that point. The campaign officially finished last month.
The MoD was fined £1m recently over breaches of strict new rules for paying senior government staff off payroll.
Mr Alexander announced the changes nearly three years ago, amid concerns that such arrangements could make it easier for employees to avoid tax.
A review of government departments and other agencies found more than 2,400 key public sector staff had been engaged off-payroll, in some cases for more than 10 years. It is not clear how many exploited the loophole. The MoD was fined for failing to seek the necessary assurances from some contractors that the new rules were being met. The mistake is understood to be due to an administrative error in 2012-13.
Hugh Milroy, CEO of Veterans Aid, said: “This couldn’t have come at a better time. For many years our daily work has focused completely on helping veterans in genuine crisis, so it is entirely appropriate for this money to be used to support ex-servicemen and women.”
Major-General (Retired) Martin Rutledge, chief executive ABF the Soldiers’ Charity, said: “I am delighted about this decision to give the money to homeless veterans. As the national charity of the Army, we can steward this money to where it’s really needed and with the minimum of red tape.
“I’m heartened by the way that many sections of the community – from the generous British public, to public-spirited businesses and now the Government – recognise this is an important area of need. A fantastic effort by all concerned.”
A £300,000 donation by Lloyds Bank lifted the funds raised for the Homeless Veterans campaign – run in conjunction with the Independent’s sister newspapers, The Independent on Sunday, i newspaper and the London Evening Standard – to its £1m target earlier this month.
Separately, the Government is donating £750,000 to help veterans from across the country travel to London to mark VE commemorations in May.
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