Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer pledges to end ex-forces homelessness by 2024

21 April 2023, 10:32 | Updated: 21 April 2023, 10:40

Johnny Mercer aims to end veteran homelessness

By Alice Bourne

Johnny Mercer has told LBC that if veterans are homeless by the end of the year, he wants to find out 'why' as he unveils his new policy to target veteran homelessness.

Plymouth Moor MP Johnny Mercer told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that if his £8 million allocation of funds to tackle veteran homelessness does not eradicate the problem by the end of the year he would ‘want to know why.’

£8.55 million funding has been announced for more than 900 veteran-supported housing units with specialist help for former armed forces personnel.

The Minister said: “Veterans are generally underrepresented in the homeless population, the last study had it at two percent.”

He estimated the number of homeless in “the low thousands” but said: “We’ll only really know when we start putting these pathways in place.”

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Nick then asked: “What gives you the confidence this problem will be solved by the end of the year.”

Johnny Mercer answered: “Because there’s a lot of provision in this space already.. the idea that there is no veterans care in this country is not correct.”

He said: “The challenge has always been organising and collaborating that provision to make sure that irrespective of your background and your circumstance you can access this care.

The policy also puts in place a bespoke homelessness pathway, called Op FORTITUDE - similar to Op COURAGE for Mental Health care, to ensure every veteran at risk of homelessness knows where to turn.

When Nick asked what would happen if the problem did not end by January the Minister said: “Well I would want to know why people are sleeping rough.”

“We’ve gone out secured the money, designed the programs and if people are homeless by the end of this year then I want to know why.”

He concluded: “I’ve worked hard on this.”

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