News story: £20 million funding for veterans' accommodation

The Prime Minister David Cameron will formally announce today, 17 July, the names of 8 projects that will share nearly £20 million of funding to improve accommodation for armed forces veterans.

Five of the projects receiving funding will use it for increasing or improving accommodation for veterans who are wounded or injured following their service. The improvements range from adapting the kitchens and gardens of disabled personnel to give them greater independence in their own homes to purpose-built accommodation to help blind veterans.

The Prime Minister is hosting his annual armed forces reception this evening and will meet representatives of the first 8 successful bids to be awarded funds.

Mr Cameron said:

I am proud to announce the first successful projects that will be supported by the veterans accommodation fund. Our armed forces make huge sacrifices for the nation and it is right that all of us recognise that sacrifice; that is why this government enshrined the armed forces covenant in law.

One of the greatest worries for our troops when they are wounded or injured is how they and their families will continue with daily life. We should do all we can to take away those worries by providing them with the specialist help and support they need to continue to live their lives, and these projects will help to deliver that.

Earlier this year the Treasury made a further £40 million of Libor money (funding from fines imposed on banks) available for charities to bid for to support projects providing accommodation for armed forces veterans.

The chancellor made Libor fine money available to armed forces organisations and charities as part of the government’s armed forces covenant, which seeks to recognise the debt we all owe our service personnel for the sacrifices they make every day.

Defence Minister Anna Soubry said:

Our armed forces and their families give so much to our country so it is only right that we continue to recognise their contribution and sacrifice after they have left service.

I’m delighted that 5 projects from across the UK will from today be receiving very well-deserved funding which will allow them to continue their efforts in assisting veterans and their families in finding and adapting accommodation.
Libor-funding recipients

The organisations receiving funding for projects to support accommodation for wounded and injured personnel are:

  • the Haig Housing Trust; £8.6 million to expand its accommodation provision in south London and Edinburgh to assist a further 416 veterans and their families per year
  • a partnership between Riverside ECHG, the Haig Housing Trust and Stoll; £6 million to provide 65 units of temporary, supported and independent accommodation in Colchester to form a pathway for veterans on their way to independent living
  • Blind Veterans UK in partnership with BLESMA; £1.25 million to create 5 purpose-built apartments in Llandudno, Wales, for vulnerable veterans with sight and/or limb-loss where they will receive accommodation and support to prepare them for independent living
  • the RAF Benevolent Fund; £400,000 to adapt the kitchens and gardens in the homes of 20 wheelchair-dependent, lifetime-disabled veterans and their families
  • Stoll; £240,000 to refurbish 30 bathrooms for disabled and older veterans at their Mansions sheltered housing who, due to poor health and deteriorating mobility, have a need for adapted bathing facilities in order to remain living independently

Three further projects that support care home accommodation for veterans will also receive a share of £3.2 million of funding:

  • the Royal British Legion; £2.5 million for a new dementia unit to provide additional, high quality accommodation for up to 30 veterans in Broadstairs, Kent
  • the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust; £112,000 for a new house care and nursing home window replacement service in Kent to ensure residents are warm and comfortable throughout the year
  • Erskine care homes in Scotland; £550,000 for to help improve the quality of the living environment for residents and help meet best practice lighting guidelines for elderly veterans with dementia
Covenant in action

The Prime Minister will also celebrate a number of other achievements across the armed forces covenant at the reception tonight, including:

  • the final local authority in Great Britain signing up to the community covenant, meaning they are all now committed to supporting armed forces personnel and their families in their local communities
  • the 200th company to sign up to the corporate covenant, committing to support the armed forces community through their business, including reservists working for them
  • the first ever companies to receive gold employer recognition awards to celebrate the support they give to the armed forces community, in particular reservists working in their organisation

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Laudable as it is to improve the lives of disabled veterans, why isn't this being funded out of core Treasury spending? "Windfall money" such as this ought not to detract from proper funding of such projects. What happens next year when the bankers get wise to this and there are no more fines?

I'd rather see this money spent on "discretionary" projects, such as art or sport, rather than the necessary.

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