Monday 27 September 2021 / 8:05 AM John Healey

Labour pledges £35 million support fund for British veterans and Afghan interpreters

Labour pledges £35 million support fund for British veterans and Afghan interpreters

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey is to announce a £35 million fund to support British veterans and Afghan interpreters in his Party conference speech today (Monday 27 September).

The funding, recovered from cancelled MoD interpreter contracts, will be used for grants to charities and Local Authorities in England to provide mental health support services and support for those Afghan nationals who have relocated to the UK through the ARAP scheme.

Mr Healey will be the first Shadow Defence Secretary to address the party’s conference since 2016, signalling Labour’s renewed focus on the defence and security of the nation.

The new cash comes as calls to veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress have doubled since the Taliban swept to power. At the same time, its income has fallen by 37% in the last financial year partly due to cuts in NHS funding support.

 

Research last year found only 26% of charities thought that the government supports the mental health of veterans, and 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

 

Meanwhile, there have been reports that some of the 1,200 ARAP-eligible Afghans that were made it out of Kabul are stranded in unsuitable accommodation, and councils have requested more funds to support them.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said:

“Our brave service personnel and their Afghan partners have shown immense courage and professionalism despite the government’s woeful mishandling of the crisis.

“The Conservatives are failing our forces. Recent funding announcements are simply a drop in the ocean and the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs has pulled the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

Recent funding announcements are simply a drop in the ocean and the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs has pulled the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

“Labour’s new support fund will make sure we protect those who protected us.”

Ends