Ministers have been accused of failing to support armyveterans after it was revealed that up to 70,000 could be on benefits as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
The Government has admitted that 33,800 people are currently receiving Universal Credit after serving their country.
But the figures, released for the first time, are drawn from an assessment of just 45 per cent of claimants, meaning the actual figure could be more than double that.
Labour’s John Healey, who obtained the figures in a question to ministers, warned that the figures released could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and hide a wider problem affecting tens of thousands who have provided military service to their country.
A report by the Royal British Legion last year found that former forces personnel are less likely to be in full time or part-time work than the general population, and nearly twice as likely to be unemployed (11 per cent v 6 per cent).
It estimated there were 1.1million veterans of working age in the UK, of whom 120,000 were unemployed.
Hilary Meredith-Beckham, founder of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester said:
“The Ministry of Defence keeps no record of ex service personnel so they are unable to keep track of how successful their transition to Civvy Street is.
“Those leaving the armed forces early due to injury and loss of career are particularly vulnerable.
“Pay in the military is low compared with civilian salaries –but it is a lifestyle choice with clear career goals and much provided for in the form of living accommodation, food and utility bills all paid for.
“Many veterans who leave early due to injury – especially those in the younger age bracket – have never paid a utility billand find budgeting extremely difficult.
“There are charities which will assist but there is still a stigma for those veterans asking for help.
“The MoD should be required to establish a register of veterans and provide a full package of medical, financial and legal help for those transitioning into civilian life.”