Housing

Spring Statement: £20million investment in housing veterans a 'welcome surprise'

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will commit £20 million to build and refurbish new homes for homeless veterans in this week’s Spring Statement

homeless veterans to get support at Spring Statement

The government has promised to end veteran homelessness in England by the end of 2023. Image: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona / Unsplash

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will announce new £20million funding to build and refurbish homes for homeless veterans at this week’s Spring Statement as the government aims to deliver on a promise to end veteran homelessness.

Hunt will announce a £33m funding package over the next three years at Wednesday’s Budget announcement, according to reports from The Sun.

The headline figure will be the £20m investment in the Veteran Capital Housing Fund to create newbuild homes and refurbished properties to house veterans.

A further £3m will go to support for veterans who received serious physical injuries during their service alongside £10m for the government’s Office for Veterans’ Affairs to boost service and engagement. 

Jeremy Hunt said: “We all owe our veterans a huge amount of gratitude for defending democracy and keeping our country safe – and it’s only right that we provide them with all the support they need when they come home.

“This government is firmly on the side of our veterans, and this week I’ll set out a comprehensive package of policies that will solidify our enduring commitment to our ex-servicemen and women for years to come.”

The latest funding package follows on from December’s announcement of £8.5m to create 900 housing units across England as part of Op Fortitude – the government’s programme to end veteran homelessness.

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Last month minister for veterans’ affairs Johnny Mercer told LBC that the number of homeless veterans was “manageable” and promised to ensure no ex-forces personnel would be without a home by the end of 2023.

He said: “There should not be any veterans involuntarily sleeping rough in this country by the end of this year, and you can hold me to that.”

Lee Buss-Blair, director of operations and group veteran lead at Riverside housing association, said the latest investment will “actively contribute” to achieving that goal.

“It’s come as a huge welcome surprise,” said Buss-Blair.

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“Veteran accommodation is a really important part in ending veteran homelessness because it’s not good enough to just create a pathway into supportive housing, you need to be able to create a sustainable pathway out of supported housing. By investing in the veteran housing sector, you’re actively doing that.

“So that money will actively contribute to Op Fortitude achieving its goal of ending veteran homelessness.”

Around 5 per cent of the rough sleeping population has an armed forces background. according to official figures.

However, Dr Hugh Milroy, chief executive of charity Veterans Aid, told The Big Issue that the announcement of new housing for veterans does not line up with the demand the frontline charity is seeing.

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 “I am delighted to see the government acting in support of the veteran population. As the frontline agency for homeless veterans or veterans in crisis operating across the country the issue we are seeing is poverty not housing,” said Dr Milroy.

“Over 60 per cent of our clients this year are with us as a direct result of poverty. Last year we homed over 100 without great difficulty.

Street homeless veteran numbers are small and have been so for some years. As an organisation at the heart of the issue, no one has consulted with us about the need. We have watched contraction in provision of bed spaces and units of veteran specific accommodation and it hasn’t had an impact on our operations.

“Surely the real need in the sector is for revenue funding that helps prevent the need to build homes.”

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