Scottish National Party MP Owen Thompson tabled the War Pensions Scheme and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (Public Inquiry) Bill on June 22, with its second reading due in September.
The war pension exists to compensate veterans who have suffered physical or mental injury in the armed forces, but a spokesperson for Thompson told Pensions Expert the MP has heard stories from veterans themselves suggesting that the system was failing them.
Thompson has campaigned on this issue for some time. In January, he filed an advance petition alleging failings in the war pension scheme and the armed forces compensation scheme render the current claims process “unfit for purpose”.
Only 57% of claims resulted in financial compensation. The fact that a third of claims fail at the first hurdle and only a minority make it through the appeals process paints a bleak picture of claimants’ chances
He argued at the time that the process “is causing many veterans to give up their claims, severely deteriorating the mental health of many veterans, pushing many into poverty, and increasing the risk of suicide.”
The first motion argued that the system is too complex, lacks transparency and results in “too many veterans not receiving the level of payment they need and then facing complex processes to get a raise. “.
Claims process presents ‘a grim picture’
In March, Thompson led a backbench business debate on the same issue that resulted in expressions of support from across the House of Commons.
He pointed to a recent customer satisfaction survey from Veterans UK, which manages the claims process, to which only 36% of respondents expressed a level of satisfaction, while 32% gave the war pension the highest rating. possible bass.
He said things were worse for the armed forces compensation scheme, pointing to figures showing that only 13% had expressed “any sort of positive rating above five”, while half of veterans rated their level of satisfaction to one, “which was again the lowest possible option”.
Thompson argued during the debate that the system appeared designed to reject claims, with figures showing that since April 2009 32% of the 107,000 claims settled in the initial review under the war pension scheme had been refused, while only 59% received a financial reward at the end of the process.
“Of the 94,000 claims under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, 31% failed at the initial stage and 74% of appeals were dismissed,” he said.
“Only 57% of claims resulted in financial compensation. The fact that a third of claims fail at the first hurdle and only a minority make it through the appeals process paints a bleak picture of claimants’ chances.
He continued, “Returning from the unimaginable conditions of war, the physical and mental trauma leaves many people feeling vulnerable, isolated and financially unstable. [Post-traumatic stress disorder] rife and the risk of self-harm and suicide may be high.
“Subjecting this community to complex, lengthy and degrading processes to claim the money they need to support themselves only exacerbates mental health issues. They are forced to relive trauma and put their sanity on the line.”
Thompson advocated for a number of scheme reforms, such as reducing payment delays and dealing with a backlog of claims, but added that “without an independent investigation to lay the groundwork for a new approach, the [Ministry of Defence] risk of tinkering around the edges”.
“I understand that all of these issues cannot be solved with a wave of a magic wand – I don’t think anyone would expect that,” he said.
“Reforming the treatment of veterans will be a long process. But it could start now with an investigation, just to recognize what went wrong, learn from mistakes, and understand how we can do better.
The government wants improvements
In response, Defense Minister Leo Docherty said he “disagrees with [Thompson’s] extremely damning accusation of the system as it is, but it is important that we always seek to improve”.
“We seek to improve first the speed of a complaint, but also the customer service. However, I repeat that it is not about saving money,” he said.
Docherty suggested that “of the 106,000 awards, 154 complaints were received, representing a failure rate of 0.1%”.
He acknowledged the need to improve systems, many of whose problems stem from staff “working with an outdated system of paper records from many different sources of information that they have to bring together”.
“The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme now has an average time to resolve cases of 90 days, which is being met, and the War Pensions Scheme has an average time of 127 days, which is below, but c It’s because they’re trying to get rid of the backlog, which we’re all trying to get rid of,” he said.
Ministry of Defense reinstates member of armed forces regime after fraudulent transfer
The Ministry of Defense will have to reinstate a former member of the armed forces pension scheme and pay him £2,000 for serious distress and inconvenience, after wrongly allowing him to be transferred to the Capita Oak pension scheme, a scam which has invested in storage modules.
Thompson submitted a written question in April about progress following the debate, and Docherty replied that “there are no plans for an investigation into the process of war pensions or force compensation payments. armies”.
“The existing process remains efficient, fit for purpose and functioning satisfactorily,” the minister said.
“When issues are identified, the Department of Defense is committed to resolving them and corrective action is taken quickly to ensure the process remains as efficient, transparent and empathetic as possible.”