The government will provide £10m in funding for projects supporting veterans’ mental health, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced in the Budget.
But it remains unclear whether the £15m of tampon tax funding, which currently goes to women’s charities, will be somehow replaced next year.
£10m to support veterans’ mental health
The government announced it will give £10m additional funding to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust in 2020-21, in order to “deliver charitable projects and initiatives that support veterans with mental health needs”.
The fund currently runs a series of programmes to support the Armed Forces community.
In autumn 2018, the fund received £10m to set up a Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund. It offers one-year grants of £35,000 and two-year grants of £70,000 to charities and community interest companies for "projects that develop and run activities that support the mental health and wellbeing of ex-Forces".
Melloney Poole, chief executive of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, said: “We are pleased and privileged to be able to offer funding to valuable projects that make a real difference to the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and we look forward to opening this new programme for funding applications later this year.”
The also trust said it will give more information on how the funds will be distributed "in due course".
Tampon Tax Fund’s future uncertain
The chancellor also announced that the tampon tax will be abolished from next January.
The tampon tax, currently at 5%, could not be entirely axed until now because under EU law sanitary products are classified as luxury products (as opposed to essential products). For this reason, in 2015 the government decided to give the sum to women’s charities instead.
The tax amounts to about £15m a year. Charities that received funding last year included Homeless Link, Crisis UK and Comic Relief among others.
Once the tax is effectively abolished next year, it is unclear whether the funding will continue.
A spokesperson for the HM Treasury said that “the government is committed” to the funding until the end of the year, but could not say what will happen afterwards, suggesting that it might have to be “reviewed”.
In 2017, the government faced criticism when £250,000 of tampon tax funding went to an anti-abortion charity.