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This Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 15 November 2018 in the House of Lords debate on the motion moved by Earl Attlee (Conservative) “that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s Veterans Strategy”. At the time of preparing this briefing the strategy had yet to be published. However, it was anticipated to be published in November 2018, and previous Government statements indicated it would cover issues such as: the public perception of veterans; housing and homelessness; health and wellbeing; and finances. As such, the briefing provides statistics and summary information on the current support available to veterans in these areas, along with background information on the operation of the armed forces covenant alongside each issue (the covenant was enshrined in law in 2011 under the Armed Forces Act). Due to the breadth of the subject and the large number of schemes targeted at veterans, this briefing only focuses on the main avenues of support in England and the UK and does not specifically cover the differing schemes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Further information, including some coverage of the devolved regions, can be found in the House of Commons Library briefing, Support for UK Veterans, 31 October 2018.

In 2016, there were estimated to be around 2.5 million UK armed forces veterans residing in households in Great Britain. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) reported that the employment rates, health status and housing status of veterans was largely in line with the rest of the UK population. However, charities such as the Royal British Legion believed actual employment rates were lower, and the House of Commons Defence Committee reported a number of concerns about the extent of mental health conditions among current and former armed forces personnel. In addition, there were varying press estimates as to the number of veterans that might be homeless, ranging from 7,000 to 13,000.

Despite this, there was widespread agreement that the public perception of veterans overestimated the issues they faced, particularly in relation to the number of veterans with mental health issues. The importance of tackling this misperception has been specifically mentioned by the Government. In addition, the briefing highlights a number of support services available to veterans in relation to many of the issues discussed, such as the MOD’s Joint Services Housing Advice Office and the Career Transition Partnership.

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