Jeremy Corbyn vows end to 'scourge' of ex-troops sleeping rough with new social contract

Posted On: 
11th November 2018

Ex-soldiers will be guaranteed a home, mental health support and education and employment opportunities under a Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.

Jeremy Corbyn with Theresa May and past prime ministers at last year's Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph memorial
Credit: 
PA Images

The party’s leader says a new “social contract” will ensure veterans are given the "opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service”.

The announcement comes on the 100th anniversary of the armistice which brought to an end to the First World War.

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The pledge includes reserving homes for people with a history of rough sleeping and tackling mental health issues, like PTSD, by putting them on a par with physical health issues.

It also promises free education and training through the party’s proposed National Education Service and job opportunities through increased apprenticeship numbers.

The Labour leader will join a host of political figures, including Theresa May, in laying a wreath in memory of the fallen this morning.

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday events, Mr Corbyn spoke of the importance of commemorating “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,” he said.  

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

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

“The psychological effects of war can be devastating. While many organisations do fantastic work to give mental health support, charity alone is not enough.

“If someone is suffering from PTSD, this should be treated as seriously as a physical injury.

“We must honour our commitments to those who served in our armed forces.”

Elsewhere Mr Corbyn has called on ministers to officially register the number of homeless veterans and log the numbers of those who take their own lives as part of its veterans strategy, due to be published this month.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said: “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.

“And it needs to put in the funding so that local councils and health providers can implement the Armed Forces Covenant consistently and effectively, to ensure that veterans get the employment, housing and health support that they are entitled to.”

Defence minister and former soldier Tobias Ellwood said of Labour’s plans: “We will take no lessons from Labour who mismanaged our defence spending in Government, leaving behind a £38 billion black hole in the defence budget. We will always support our brave veterans.

"That is why, in addition to our 24/7 Military Mental Health Helpline and our Forces Help to Buy scheme, we have announced a £19 million package this week to further our support of veterans with mental health needs and projects for local communities to preserve the memory of the sacrifice people have made for their country."