With Armed Forces Day approaching, Wendy Chamberlain MP has submitted an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to commit to long – term sustainable funding and the provision of specialist support for veterans at risk of homelessness.
The motion welcomes the UK Government’s commitment to end veterans’ rough sleeping by 2024, and thanks Riverside, Alabaré, Launchpad and STOLL for their campaigning to highlight the lack of Government funding for supported housing for veterans who are at risk of homelessness.
Last year their campaigning highlighted the plight of supported housing for veterans experiencing homelessness, including The Beacon, a specialist supported housing service for veterans at Catterick Garrison – the largest British army garrison any garrison anywhere in the world.
Last September, The Beacon ran out of funding to help veterans with complex needs. This is a picture that has been seen across the entire veteran supported housing sector over the last 12 years.
The Beacon, which is managed by Riverside and is situated in Richmond, North Yorkshire, has helped more than 340 homeless British military veterans since it opened in September 2011.
It closed its services to veterans with the most complex needs such as PTSD, physical disability, mental health difficulties and substance misuse almost exactly ten years after it opened.
Nationally estimates indicate that between 100 and 400 veterans sleep rough ever year and a further 3,000 to 4,000 face homelessness in temporary accommodation, sofa surfing, or living in cars and derelict buildings.
Across the UK Riverside, Launchpad, Alabaré, and Stoll provide 558 flats or bed spaces across 19 locations for veterans with medium or high support needs.
However, military veterans face losing these vital support services with central Government funding having ended and local government funding gradually drying up over the past 12 years.
Protecting the collapse of these vital services for the next two financial years until the end of this parliament, would cost the Government around £5.5m – approximately £2.75m per year.
As part of the new Veterans’ action plan the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has committed to look at the supply of supported housing for veterans by the end of 2022.
However, to date no long-term sustainable funding has been put forward to safeguard these services.
The EDM has now received 16 signatures, and has drawn the support of former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.
Upon tabling the EDM, Wendy Chamberlain MP said,
“For some veterans the shift to civilian life is a significant change and requires assistance. I have seen this first hand through my previous work in employment support at the Scottish Resettlement Centre – but also with housing, independent living, and mental health.
“This is why I have tabled this motion and am calling on the Government to commit to long term sustainable funding of specialist supported housing. Having served us all in our armed forces, veterans must not be forgotten by our Government.”
Director of Operations and Group Veterans Lead at Riverside, Lee Buss-Blair added,
“Enshrining the commitment to end rough sleeping for Armed Forces veterans by the end of this Parliament in the Government’s Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan is a historical step forward, however veteran-specific supported housing remains in crisis.
“We are grateful to Wendy Chamberlain MP for highlighting the plight in Parliament and are encouraged by the political support the campaign has received. Securing long-term sustainable funding for specialist supported housing is an absolutely vital step in ending veterans’ rough sleeping.”