Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has criticised the Government after it was revealed that up to 70,000 veterans could now be claiming Universal Credit as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
Last month, Ministers admitted for the first time that 33,800 veterans are currently receiving Universal Credit after service their country, following parliamentary questions to Ministers from Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey. However, these figures are drawn from an assessment of just 45% of claimants, meaning the actual figure could be more than double that.
There are currently around 7,000 veterans living across Tameside and Stockport.
In 2019, the Government announced up to £6 million to fund more than 100 Armed Forces Champions in jobcentres. However, the Veterans Strategy Action Plan confirmed that Ministers were pushing ahead with plans for only 50 Armed Forces Champions.
A report by the Royal British Legion last year found that former personnel are less likely to be in full time or part-time work than the general population, and nearly twice as likely to be unemployed.
Commenting, Andrew Gwynne said:
“I know that these figures will rightfully appal local people across Tameside and Stockport. It’s nothing short of despicable that Ministers are forcing veterans to rely on universal credit during the cost of living crisis.
Our armed service personnel have sacrificed an enormous amount to keep us safe, we have a moral duty to ensure that veterans receive the right support and employment opportunities.
The Government needs to reveal exactly how many veterans are relying on universal credit and set out how it plans to fix this crisis. It also needs to explain why they have picked this moment to cut employment support to former personnel in half.”