Labour calls on the Government to support orphaned service children

Jim Murphy MPLabour is urging the Government to continue vital support for the children of those killed in action.

At present the child of a service man or woman receives a ‘service premium’. If their parent passes away support is cut at what will be the most traumatic of times for any young person. See below for further information.

Labour is calling on the Government to consider using a significant underspend in the pupil premium budget to correct this and provide real support for service children.

Following Labour calls the Government has said they will take “steps to put it right”. Action is needed now and Labour will hold Ministers to account.

Labour’s defence and education teams will be considering how to support service children as part of our ongoing policy reviews.

Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said:

“The whole country mourns when we lose a soldier in Afghanistan, but no-one more so than the young families they leave behind. Children should not lose this vital support if they lose their Mum and Dad in the service of our country.

“The Government must look at how these young heroes can be supported at what will be the most difficult period of their lives. Ministers will not be forgiven if they do not honour these warm words.”

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Service families will be relieved to hear the Government is looking at reversing its position after pressure from Labour. No child who loses a parent in service of our country should be punished again by losing their service premium. Pupils whose parents are in the forces often need extra support at school to help with the burden of having a parent overseas and moving from school to school.”

Further information on the ‘service premium’:

Children of those in the Armed Forces receive the ‘service premium’, which will be £250 per year from next year. If a parent dies while a child is in receipt of this, however, that funding ceases at the end of the school year because the child is no longer considered a ‘service child’.

There is a £150m underspend in the pupil premium allocation for 2012/13 and Labour believes the Government should examine whether this can be used to extend the ‘service premium’ support beyond the year of a parent’s death, the most traumatic of times for any young person.

Research from the House of Commons Library has shown that:

The ‘Service Premium’ for children whose parents are currently serving in the armed forces is £200 in 2011-12, and will rise to £250 in 2012-13.
In 11/12 45,070 service children received pupil premium, totalling just over £9m. For 12/13 the numbers of service children in receipt of the premium expected to be approximately the same at 45,060.

Total funding through the Premium will increase from £625m in 2011-12 to £1.25bn in 2012-13.

In 12/13 £11.265m is allocated for service children; £1.06bn is allocated under the deprivation indicator for the pupil premium (those on FSM receiving the premium); and £24m is allocated for looked after children. This makes a total allocation of £1.1bn allocated to the pupil premium in 12/13.

There is therefore an underspend of £150m in the allocation.

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