Francis Maude: particularly poignant Remembrance

Remembrace Sunday
Remembrace Sunday

This week, an update on a topic which – judging by the frequency with which people get in touch with me about it – is particularly important to local people. But first, it was good to hear that lots of people turned out to the various Remembrance Sunday services in Horsham and surrounding villages.

I’m currently out of the country on ministerial business and was unable to lay a wreath – it felt very strange to miss an occasion that is such a fixture in my, and so many others’, calendars.

This year’s events seem particularly poignant when, as a Government, we have been planning 2014’s national events to commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War.

On the subject of the armed forces, significant changes were announced by the Defence Secretary last week, none more significant than the proposals to revamp our Reserve Forces whom studies have shown, have declined in number, have become older, less well-trained and less motivated.

In future the Reserves, whose numbers will be increased, will be integral to and fully integrated with, our Regular Forces. They’ll provide high-tech capabilities and will be deployed as formed ‘sub-units’ and to provide assistance to Regular Forces. They will also be able to be mobilised to support ‘standing’ military tasks. We’ve set aside an additional £1.8bn over the next decade for new equipment, training and uniforms.

We’re also changing the name Territorial Army to Army Reserve, encouraging more ex-Regulars to become Reservists and working harder to build a proper relationship between the MoD, Reservists and their employers.

Finally, there are 800,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia. I know the strain that the condition puts on individuals and families.

As more and more people will be affected by dementia tackling it has become a priority. The Cabinet Office’s social action fund and the Department of Health are providing just over £2m to recruit and train 6,000 dementia community champions, who will then train a further one million dementia ‘friends’. All evidence points towards the benefits that greater knowledge of dementia can bring. The Government is also providing:

£9.6m for dementia research which will expand the UK BioBank to include 8,000 brain scans

A £1m prize fund for ways to increase diagnosis

A £50m fund for care environments designed for people with dementia.