Concerns of homes for ex-armed services remain.
The Government announcement in the budget of £100 million to bring a number of serving personnel’s families homes up to a decent standard, what we used to call Married Quarters is very welcome news.
There has been calls for married quarters to be upgraded for years with the deplorable condition of the housing that the families of armed services personnel serving on the front line living in being raised in the national media.
The increase in the Family Welfare fund being raised from £2million to £4million is also welcome.
What has to be understood is that both increases only apply to serving personnel and their families and not those who are currently threatened with redundancies or ex-service personnel who are due to leave at the end of their service.
There is also a very justifiable criticism of George Osborne’s statement that the funding for the £104 million will be from a £2.4 billion “peace dividend” from bringing the troops home from Afghanistan earlier than planned.
The criticism comes in a number of forms chief of which is that wars are paid for from a “special reserve”, effectively the money for conflicts, very much in the same form as the £350bn quantative easing doesn’t exist until the Government commit to entering a conflict situation.
When did any Chancellor ever stand up on budget day and say “I’ve also put ‘£x’ billions of pounds towards “this year’s chosen war”.
The fact is once a conflict is entered into whether it was the Falkland 30 years ago and more recently Kosovo, Iraq or Afghanistan the funding is and has to be open-ended and continue to be found until either victory or a peaceful withdrawal is achieved.
The real “peace dividend” is that we will see an end to the distressing scenes of Union Flag draped coffins being repatriated and our service personnel are all brought home for families and children to spend their lives with loving parents.
If George Osborne is really saying that he has £2.4bn then he and the Government should invest a considerable chunk of it on supporting ex-service personnel and their families by,
Firstly allowing ex-service personnel and their families to continue to live in married quarters for up to 12 months on completion of their service to provide a sensible transitional period during which time they should be able to apply to the Local Authority and be guaranteed a home in the area they come from.
Secondly the Government should provide the funding for local authorities to build homes specifically for ex-armed services personnel on Council owned land with some of the homes being adapted for those who have suffered injuries.
Thirdly the Government in their proposed changes to restricting the length of time tenants will have secured tenancies should include the provision of homes for ex-service personnel.
Those who have served the country so proudly deserve to be treated better than they are at present, they don’t want a hand out just the opportunity of a home to enable them to readjust to civilian life.
It is the very least we can do and if we are to believe George Osborne he and the coalition Government have £2.4bn which would be enough to honour the promise of providing Homes for Heroes and I am grateful to BBC Northampton for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed on the subject and bring it to a wider audience.