George Osborne has announced that heroes who have been awarded the highest possible honour for their bravery will receive £10,000 a year as thanks from a grateful nation - paid for by fines on banks.
The payments will go to those awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross for bravery. At the moment, they receive a small annuity for the rest of their life, which last year was £2,129. The announcement will make a substantial difference to the incomes received by these heroes.
The Victoria Cross is a military medal, given to members of the armed forces who display incredible courage in the face of the enemy. The George Cross is a civilian award crated by King George VI to award civilians showing extreme bravery during the Blitz.
Osborne said: "These inspirational people have gone above and beyond for this country and it is only right that we do all we can to support them."
The extra money will be paid for through £3 million of the cash raised through fining banks for serious breaches of banking regulations. Some £450 million of this money has already been given to good causes over the past five years - who are either in the armed forces, emergency services, veterans or other causes which are considered to represent the 'very best of British values'. In the Budget Osborne is expected to announce further gifts, particularly targeted at military causes.
Osborne added: "It is quite right that we use the bank fines from those who demonstrated the worst of values to support those who have shown the best of British values."
There are few who would argue with this generosity. It rewards great courage and bravery, using money taken as fines for appalling behaviour by the banks. There is no doubt that these heroes deserve our thanks, and that for many the additional income will be the kind of gratitude that makes a real difference to their lives.
There are also those who highlight that after making such major cuts to defence and to the police service, Osborne is in dire need of some good press surrounding Britain's heroes.
It also shouldn't go without saying that many of the extraordinary individuals who receive the Victoria Cross do so posthumously. And that with just ten living holders of the Victoria Cross and 18 living holders of the George Cross (excluding the two collectively given to the people of Malta and the Royal Ulster Constabulary), it also generates some positive headlines for relatively little outlay.
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