Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Tories plan scholarships for children of fallen troops

Soldiers patrolling in Helmand province
Some 108 personnel were killed in Afghanistan in 2009

Children of UK service personnel killed in action would be offered university scholarships under the Tories, shadow chancellor George Osborne has pledged.

The £8,210 grant would pay course fees and £5,000 a year towards living costs, he told the News of the World.

A further education scholarship would also cover college fees and costs when not covered by other entitlements.

Children of 588 personnel killed in service since 1990 - including 246 in Afghanistan - would qualify.

Others have died on service in Iraq, the Gulf, Sierra Leone, the Balkans, Northern Ireland and Cambodia.

Mr Osborne announced the support after visiting troops in Afghanistan, where 108 UK personnel died last year.

He said seeing their commitment and determination had made him more determined to help the families of those killed.

'Lasting tribute'

"These university and college scholarships will provide financial help for the families of fallen servicemen and women - and will be a lasting tribute to their bravery and sacrifice," he said.

The move, costing an estimated £1.5m a year, would be introduced on the first day of a Conservative administration, Mr Osborne said.

The money will come from the Higher Education Funding Council's £455m Widening Participation budget.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said: "Our duty of care extends not only to those serving in our Armed Forces but to their dependants.

"For those fighting for our security, they have a right to know that if the worst happens their families will be properly cared for."

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