Politics

Scottish Election 2021: Housing For Veterans A 'Massive Issue', Scottish Labour Leader Says

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has spoken to Forces News about his party's plans for defence ahead of the election.

Ahead of the election for Scottish Parliament next week, Forces News has been speaking to the country's party leaders to learn more about their plans for the Armed Forces and veterans community.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has told Forces News what his party is planning.

What will you do to help veterans transition from the military to civilian life?

"How we transition people from being in the Armed Forces back into normal everyday life is absolutely crucial.

"That’s partly making sure they have access to employment and a big part of that is our Armed Forces Covenant.

"So one part is getting them access to employment that means giving them additional support around training, additional support around getting into individual sectors.

"It's also about making sure they have adequate access to health services and public services more in the round.

"Many of them will have certain mental health issues that they need extra support with or other issues they need support with as well, so how we give them access to our public services is really important.

"And alongside that around housing – housing is a massive issue for so many."

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Anas Sarwar said "one-on-one assessments for every child" could be one of the ways to support military spouses and children in Scotland.

What can be done to better support military spouses and children in Scotland?

"How do we support them in terms of their own housing situation is one example, but also in their education system, and that's why one of the things we've been talking about is the education comeback.

"And what that means is one-on-one assessments for every child across the country so every child gets an individual assessment, not just on their educational attainment, but also on their mental health.

"And that then means it's backed up with support if they need extra mental health support, for example.

"Or if they do need extra support in terms of a gap in their educational attainment – one-on-one tutoring should be made available to them so they can... catch up on their education."

What will you do to ensure military and defence-related jobs remain in Scotland?

"It’s crucial and that requires us to make sure we are supporting the sector, defending in the sector, working with the sector, but it also requires co-operation.

"So we would work with the UK Government and political parties across the UK to make sure we are protecting defence sector jobs in Scotland and actually trying to encourage more jobs in Scotland as well."

The Scottish Labour leader said the Armed Forces "were crucial" when it came to COVID-19 testing in the early days.

How does the Armed Forces fit into your vision of Scotland's future?

"Our Armed Forces were absolutely crucial to getting us through this pandemic.

"They were crucial in terms of testing in the early days.

"They've been crucial in terms of helping to roll out the vaccine in many parts of the country and we can't thank our Armed Forces enough.

"And that's why we've got to recognise they have a role to play, yes, in keeping us safe – keeping us safe domestically as they demonstrated during the pandemic – but actually keeping our country safe globally as well."

You can read our interviews with the leaders of the Scottish National Party, Scottish Conservative Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats by clicking the hyperlinks.

The Scottish Green Party did not respond to our request for an interview.