The Liberal Democrats welcomed Help for Heroes to the annual party conference in Bournemouth to discuss how it will prioritise veterans at the next general election. This is the first time that the charity has held an event at this conference.
Our Director of Public Affairs, Beth Miles, hosted a panel event with parliamentarians and experts from Armed Forces organisations to discuss the most pressing concerns facing the veteran community. These included financial wellbeing, gaps in the medical discharge process, and the need for greater mental health support for those during and after transition back to civilian life.
She was joined on the panel by Richard Foord MP, who is a veteran and the party’s Spokesperson for Defence in the House of Commons; Baroness Smith of Newnham, who represents the party on defence matters in the House of Lords; Angela Kitching, the Director of Public Affairs for the Royal British Legion; and Mark Elliott, a veteran and co-founder of Help for Heroes.
At the event, we launched our Help for Heroes Manifesto, which sets out the 11 policies we would like the Party to commit to if in power, including commissioning an independent review into the medical discharge process, and for War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to be disregarded as income when receiving benefits or pension support.
Also at the Conference, delegates passed a motion calling for a ‘Fair Deal for the Armed Forces’. This motion contains policies which the Party will support going forward and will consider for their manifesto next year. Three of our manifesto asks were agreed to in this motion:
- Strengthening the Armed Forces Covenant by placing a legal duty on the Defence Secretary and government departments to give due regard to the Armed Forces Covenant.
- Waiving application fees for indefinite leave for members of families of Armed Forces personnel on discharge.
- Ensuring that military compensation which is awarded because of illness or injury does not count towards means testing for benefits.
We also attended and supported several events by Liberal Democrat Friends of the Armed Forces.