Parish council chairman ‘appalled’ by government’s use of Armed Forces charity fund

Roger Atterwill. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Roger Atterwill. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The chairman of a parish council in Norfolk has said he is 'appalled' by the way the government has used funds intended for charities that support the military.

Picture: Ian Burt

Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It was recently reported that a government fund, made up of money from fines that had been paid by the banking industry for manipulating the Libor interest rate had been used to improve military units' welfare facilities.

This included £28,000 being paid to support 'community welfare facilities' for the Queen's Dragoons Guards at Robertson Barracks, in Swanton Morley.

The revelation led to an angry response from the chairman of the Swanton Morley Parish Council, who accused the government of using money intended for charitable causes to make up for shortfalls in the budget.

'I am appalled that the Government has seen fit to use the money in this way,' said councillor Roger Atterwill.

'Whilst I welcome any additional funding to improve the facilities at Robertson Barracks here in Swanton Morley, I strongly feel that this should be paid for directly from the Defence budget.

'Our armed forces and their families deserve to have modern well maintained facilities and equipment. If the budget is insufficient for the task then ministers need to take a long hard look at themselves and rectify the situation immediately.

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'As a nation we cannot expect to have a first class military paid for with second class funding. I also strongly believe that the money used should be reimbursed into the original fund and distributed to the Forces charities.'

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence defended the government's position, stating Libor funds can be used for welfare improvements.

'The use of Libor fines to fund facilities and projects which support good causes and make a real difference to the Armed Forces community is entirely consistent with the fund's scope.

'We of course fund all core welfare provision, however this does not disqualify the use of Libor funding for additional facilities and projects,' he said.

The use of libor funds was also criticised in September 2017, when the National Audit Office found the government did not monitor if recipients had used the money as intended and many of the grants had not included any terms and conditions.