Rishi Sunak criticised over furlough scheme by Mike Graham
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Rishi Sunak will pledge the cash this year to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust in his Commons statement on Wednesday. The Chancellor told the Daily Express: “We value hugely the sacrifices made by so many men and women in the Armed Forces. “Supporting veterans with mental health needs is a crucial part of repaying the huge debt we all owe them, ensuring that veterans get the support they deserve.”
His move follows widespread concerns that mental health problems throughout society have worsened during the Covid pandemic.
In the past, the Treasury has distributed cash for supporting veterans with mental health problems directly to charities including Invictus Games Foundation and Walking with the Wounded.
It follows concerns about high levels of stress, anxiety and addiction among former troops and other military personnel who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones.
This year, the cash will go to the trust set up by the Ministry of Defence specifically to look after the needs of former service personnel.
The Government provided £10 million for veterans with mental health needs in both the 2020 and 2018 Budgets.
The funding supported programmes including the “One is Too Many” programme to address suicide risks among vulnerable veterans and the “Veterans Should Not Be Forgotten” programme to provide support for veterans with reduced social contact.
Ministers launched the trust in 2015 to oversee the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Treasury officials say he pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health and mental health services.
The Chancellor announced £500 million in last year’s Spending Review for the NHS to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.
In addition, in November the Department for Health and Social Care announced the Wellbeing and mental health support plan for Covid-19. The plan, backed by an additional £50 million, sets out the support that is in place in the immediate term to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing this winter.
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