Calls for extra support for veterans and armed forces personnel in Ipswich

Ipswich Borough Council's Grafton House

A group has recommended Ipswich Borough Council provide extra support for veterans and armed forced personnel. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Extra support for veterans and serving armed forces personnel has been recommended by a task group at Ipswich Borough Council.

A motion was unanimously passed last summer by the authority pledging to ensure that members of the armed services and veterans – including Commonwealth and Nepalese (Gurkha) veterans – were not disadvantaged in accessing council services or support.

A task group was formed last year and outlined a series of recommendations to Thursday night’s scrutiny committee meeting.

Those include suggestions for the council’s sport and leisure teams to liaise with military bosses over using council sports facilities for fitness tests and group physical training sessions, and relaxing the time restrictions on use of military iCards – as long as they do not lead to excessive demand on facilities.

Elsewhere, a guaranteed interview scheme should be investigated, the task group said, and a dedicated information page be set up on the website for veterans around housing needs, benefits, council tax and community support.

The task group said the council should also work towards achieving silver status under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.

The council’s scrutiny committee agreed to present the findings to the executive to implement as soon as possible.

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Councillor Steve Flood, himself ex-forces, said: “The whole thing about what we can do to contribute to our ex-armed forces veterans is a positive thing, and Ipswich Borough should be commended already for the way we try and help our service men and women, and the signposts that have been set up for people, and the very positive ways forward to help veterans in future.”

Cllr Tracy Grant, who has experience in the air force, added: “It’s good to see there is support because you cannot understand how difficult it is to adjust to civilian life.”

The task group heard evidence from serving reservists in 202 Squadron and the 158 Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps, as well as veterans and support organisations such as Combat2Coffee during its evidence gathering.

Concerns were raised that veterans often felt isolated and unsupported when they left the military, and specific circumstances had arisen in the past.

Among those have been issues for partners of armed forces personnel to get single-person council tax when their partner was deployed for six months or more, and instances where unsuitable accommodation was provided.

It is understood there are around 800 veterans living in Ipswich IP1-4 postcodes.