Scottish Government Veterans Minister Keith Brown has called for a meeting with his Westminster counterpart to discuss support for military personnel who face redundancy as a result of the latest MoD cuts.
Mr Brown warned that redundancies, uncertainty over the delayed Basing Review, combined with UK welfare reforms, including introduction of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, were all threatening to undermine the smooth transition of Scotland’s military heroes into civilian life.
In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Veterans’ Transition – the Rt Hon Lord Ashcroft – Mr Brown expressed concerns that recent decisions taken by the UK Government are creating a “perfect storm” for those leaving the service.
The Minister outlined his eagerness to work in partnership with Lord Ashcroft to ensure Scotland’s veterans receive the support they deserve.
Mr Brown said:
“When our servicemen and women have courageously served their country, the very least they can expect in return is support when they leave service and return to civilian life.
“But Westminster’s welfare cuts, including the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, only threaten to undermine this, and threaten to make adjusting to life outside the armed forces substantially more difficult.
“Furthermore, the MOD recently announced its biggest tranche of army redundancies in recent times – with plans to cut a further 5300 army posts in 2013. In addition, we are still awaiting the outcome of the Basing Review which has implications for communities across Scotland. These decisions are going to put significant pressure on Scottish public and third sector organisations who are working hard to support veterans and their families, and I urge the UK Government to seriously consider the impact that such changes will have when undertaking its transition review for military personnel over this year.
“In this work, Scotland and Scottish veterans must not be an afterthought. I stand ready to work with Lord Ashcroft and I hope he will respond positively to my urgent request for a meeting.
“If Scotland were to get the full powers of independence, it would be a top priority for this government to ensure that the needs of our armed forces communities are met.
“Already, Scotland has so much to offer service personnel and their families, as demonstrated in the publication of “Our Commitments: Scottish Government support for the Armed Forces community in Scotland”.