Labour is today urging Ministers to re-open the Government’s dedicated Veterans UK Helpline, which has been closed, while other vital Government support on pensions and compensation payments has also been scaled back.
While the country has been inspired by the efforts of 99 year-old veteran, Captain Tom Moore, thousands of other veterans around the country will be in need of extra support at this difficult time.
Government figures reveal there are 126,000 veterans who, like Captain Tom, are living in Britain in their 90s.
However, Ministers have taken the decision to close the Veterans UK Helpline, as well as suspending postal enquiries, with veterans directed to a Ministry of Defence email address instead. Alongside this, support for some pension and compensation claims or enquiries has been halted.
Labour is urging the Government to safely re-open the Veterans UK Helpline service, to allow elderly and vulnerable veterans the support they need during the coronavirus crisis.
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said:
“Ministers are letting veterans down by closing this vital helpline at a time when thousands of former service personnel will need extra support.
“The country has been awed by the fantastic efforts of Captain Tom, but for many elderly veterans this will be a time of huge uncertainty and anxiety.
“Ministers should immediately start to safely re-open the Veterans UK Helpline, so those who need it can get the support they deserve.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Veterans, said:
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for us and it is only right that they continue to be supported after they leave the service.
“Many businesses and other organisations are rearranging how they work to continue to provide support, so there is no reason why the Ministry of Defence can’t do the same.
“Our veterans need support, and the Government has a duty of care to continue to provide that, at this uncertain time.”