PLANS to end all military veterans’ rough sleeping instances by 2024 have been blasted by a Barnsley MP for ‘not going far enough’ to address the issue.
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East and shadow minister for veterans, questioned ministers on the government’s Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan in Parliament.
The pledge vows to end rough sleeping for veterans by 2024, however it dedicates no specialised funding to achieving this promise, nor does it outline what data will be used to measure whether they have been successful, according to Ms Peacock.
“When I questioned ministers, they could not even provide an answer to how many veterans are currently sleeping rough,” she told the Chronicle.
“It is welcome that the government want to end veteran rough sleeping, but with no plan, no resources and no data, it seems their promise is likely to come up empty.
“It is time for ministers to take this commitment seriously and provide a clear outline on the practical actions they will take to ensure none of our veterans are sleeping on the streets.”
Last week, she visited The Beacon, on Doncaster Road, a specialist supported accommodation centre for veterans at risk of homelessness.
They warned their sector was at ‘significant risk of collapse’ due to underfunding, after it was recently revealed residents who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness are at a record high.
Royston-based charity Help 4 Homeless Veterans were due to receive a grant secured by the Sheffield City Region from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) - in order to further their cause in Barnsley - but terms could not be agreed.
A spokesperson added: “We were disappointed that we could not come to an agreement with the Sheffield City Region office on the best use of that grant, but we continue to help veterans needing our specialist help without any of the MOD money that was distributed for that purpose due to the constraints on how to spend it that has caused this conflict for us.
“We couldn’t accept it with the strings attached as it goes against the ethos of our charity of low overheads and spending money raised on helping the homeless veterans themselves.
“Since being formed in Barnsley in 2012 the charity has helped around 500 homeless veterans, including partners and some children.
“We raise our own funds and don’t just talk the talk, we do what it says on our tin, not just in Barnsley but throughout South Yorkshire and the rest of England and Wales without fuss.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, a former Major in the Parachute Regiment, said: “In one of the richest countries in the world, no-one should find themselves sleeping rough or without a stable, secure home - especially our servicemen and women who risked their lives to keep our country safe.
“I have been working closely with our local authorities to eradicate homelessness.
“Our local councils have done a sterling job supporting homeless people throughout the pandemic, as part of the ‘Everybody In’ initiative, but they urgently need national government to step up and provide the resources needed to continue delivering frontline services.”