At Defence Questions this week I asked the Minister of State what action his department was taking to ensure that those who serve in our Armed Forces, and who are subsequently diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, are given the help they need to access benefits.
As the Minister said in his reply, not every member of our Armed Forces will experience PTSD, but it is our duty to safeguard those who do and give them the benefits they deserve.
These women and men have been prepared to lay down their lives for their country. We will be forever in their debt and the least we can do is ensure that they are supported through social security payments. Sadly, the increased waiting that constituents are facing in accessing welfare has placed untold pressures upon them. This is not good enough. The Government can do so much better.
In 2011 the then Coalition Government announced with much fanfare that they would enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law. However, the promises made to our Armed Forces personnel have not been matched with action.
We must ensure that those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country are cared for after they leave the Armed Forces. But according to the Armed Forces charity SSAFA only 16% of veterans believe it is being delivered effectively.
By 2018 the UK had spent £1.2bn on Galileo, Europe’s answer to the US GPS system. We have learnt that the UK Government now intends to build its own system as we are no longer part of the project due to Brexit.
This is expected to cost £3bn to £5bn. I wanted to know where this money was coming from and when the UK expect this project to be online.
I believe it is important that we should work with our neighbours and allies when it comes to defence. Not only is there strength in numbers but it cuts the cost to the taxpayer.
The Minister diligently provided a non-answer.
The UK Government has outsourced the duties of recruitment for our Armed Forces to private firm Capita – the same firm that has been awarded government contracts in the past for benefit payments.
Since they have had this contract they have missed targets for recruitment. That is why I wanted the minister to tell the House how much it would cost us to withdraw the contract and if the UK Government has any plans to do so.
We cannot have an underfunded or an under-staffed Armed Forces and if Capita cannot recruit the people we need they should have the contract removed.