Tuesday February 7th 2023
Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson
A new survey, run by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Veterans, has found that 76.4% of veterans and personnel would rate their experience claiming compensation for illness or injury caused by service as poor, or very poor – compared to just 6.4% who rate it good, or very good.
The anonymous survey, which gathered over 1,000 responses, was launched cross-party by Stephanie Peacock MP (Labour), James Sunderland MP Conservative), Owen Thompson MP (SNP), and Richard Foord MP (Liberal Democrat), and ran from November 1st 2022 to February 1st 2023.
It investigated the experiences UK veterans and personnel have with claiming compensation for an illness or injury (caused by service) through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) and/or War Pensions.
Both of these schemes are run by ‘Veterans UK’ which sits under the Ministry of Defence and is in the unique position of both assessing and awarding claims – with no independent verification.
The survey found that 83.4% of veterans would rate the support they experienced from Veterans UK as poor, or very poor, whilst 84.5% would rate the consideration given to their mental and physical health during the process as poor, or very poor – compared to 5.9% and 5.7% who would rate these as good, or very good, respectively.
Common complaints included the sheer length of the process; the way Veterans UK ignored or mishandled medical advice and evidence; and the adversarial and unsympathetic nature of Veterans UK staff when handling claims.
More than one veteran said the process drove them to consider, or attempt suicide, with another saying they felt the process was ‘set up to cause deliberate harm to veterans’.
The cross-party group of MPs are now calling on the Ministry of Defence to review the results of the survey, and launch an independent inquiry into the compensation claiming process.
Stephanie Peacock MP commented:
“For years, veterans have been telling us that the compensation claiming system is not fit for purpose – from excruciatingly long wait times and high levels of rejection, to poor handling of evidence from staff.
Now that these anecdotal claims have been reflected in statistical evidence, Ministers must act quickly to make improvements to the service.
This is not about political point scoring. This is about making sure that every veteran, who has served our country with distinction, gets a fair and impartial chance at claiming what they are entitled to. It is the least we owe them for their duty.”
Owen Thompson MP said:
“It is imperative that we continue to campaign for improvements to veterans’ benefits through the work of the APPG. The results of this survey clearly highlight that there is an urgent need for review and that more needs to be done in recognition and support for the rehabilitation of veterans facing physical or psychological wounds.
Every day, men and women have to leave their careers in the Armed Forces as a result of this, their lives changed forever, and it is crucial they receive the financial and welfare support they need.”Tweet Share on Facebook