‘Make online contributions to charities that are struggling’ was the Prime Minister’s plea to MPs in a recent exchange about Government support for veterans organisations. As the Government pledges another £254m to tackle rough sleeping, now more than ever, it is important to target spending wisely.
In a recent Armistice Day exchange about government spending, Labour leader Keir Starmer invited the Prime Minister and fellow MPs to praise the ‘remarkable work’ of veterans’ charities – singling out two of the nation’s largest and most well-known for mention.
Sir Keir pointed out that they had seen a significant drop in funding since the start of the pandemic – to the point where they were having to make ‘difficult decisions’ about redundancies and keeping facilities open.
Of course this is also true of the wider charity sector, to which my points are equally relevant.
The exchange provoked a rightfully enthusiastic and positive response, but it was a general one; predicated, I suspect, on an assumption that veterans’ charities were homogenous and equally engaged in providing practical and immediate support for struggling veterans.
This clearly isn’t the case and I want to push for greater thought about this area prior to any allocation of new funding.
Government support for charities in the present climate must be needs driven. This is a time of crisis, in which financing of non-essential services seems very inappropriate.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation predicts that 2.5m households are worried about paying rent over winter, with 700,000 already in arrears and 350,000 at risk of eviction. This will only be compounded by a rise in unemployment, predicted to be the sharpest for half a century. Naturally, some of those affected will be ex-servicemen and women.
Let’s get much smarter about how Government money is used to address social exclusion.
To date Veterans Aid has provided 275 days of uninterrupted service…