This briefing paper details the support available to armed forces veterans in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Jump to full report >>
The Armed Forces Covenant was introduced in 2011 and is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces in return for the sacrifices they make. Its core principles were enshrined in law in the Armed Forces Act 2011, although the Covenant does not create legally enforceable rights for service or former service personnel.
It is the Armed Forces Covenant which provides the central focus of current Government policy towards veterans. As of 2015, there were an estimated 2.56 million UK armed forces veterans living in households across Great Britain. The Covenant outlines two core principles which influence the support and policies directed towards the veteran community:
In July 2019, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson created an Office for Veterans's Affairs. Located in the Cabinet Office, the Office is led by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Downden, and the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer. Announcing its creation, the Government stated its role was to "work with departments to coordinate and drive government policy on veterans’ welfare, spanning mental and physical health, education and employment." The Chancellor announced £5 million funding for the Office in September 2019.
Service leavers are allocated graduated resettlement time to enable them to participate in briefings or training designed to assist them in leaving the services. Each service provides information and advice on resettlement and transitioning to civilian life. The Career Transition Partnership provides service leavers with specific career support through a number of different programmes, eligibility of which is largely determined by length of service.
Service leavers and veterans may attract additional preference in certain circumstances when applying for social housing. In addition, there is a MoD referral scheme to support recent veterans in accessing housing association properties. The increased risk of experiencing street homelessness is also recognised. In England, “vulnerable former members of the armed forces” who are homeless and in Wales “a person who has served….who has been homeless” are identified as priority need categories for assistance with housing. In Scotland there is a duty to find permanent accommodation for all unintentionally homeless applicants.
There is also specific support for the healthcare provided to veterans. The March 2015 Budget included an announcement for £8.4 million over the next five years to expand the services providing mental health support for veterans in England. The Veterans and Reserves Mental Health programme, alongside the charity Combat Stress, both provide mental health support and services for veterans. For physical health problems, the Veterans Medical Funds programme support those with hearing loss and serious physical injury. In addition there is support and specialist centres across the UK to provide prosthetic and rehabilitation services. Money from LIBOR fines provides funding for more local or specific health projects.
The occupational pension scheme for members of the armed forces is the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS). Separate to this are schemes to make payments to current and former service personnel and their families in respect of ill health, injury or death caused by service. In the case of incidents before 6 April 2005, payments are made through the War Pensions Scheme. For incidents after that date, there is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). Surviving partners and dependent children may be eligible for survivors’ benefits from the AFPS. In the case of deaths attributable to service, compensation payments may be available from the War Pension Scheme (for deaths attributable to service before 6 April 2005) or AFCS (for deaths attributable to service after that date).
There are no Government welfare-to-work schemes specifically for armed forces veterans, nor are there (with the exception of the Armed Forces Independence Payment) any social security benefits specifically for veterans, although there are some “easements” for veterans and their family members. Each Jobcentre Plus district has an “Armed Forces Champion”, whilst there is exemption from the household benefit cap where a member of family is receiving a guaranteed income payment through AFCS or a War Pensions Scheme payment.
This paper also provides information on the medals and memorials for veterans of the armed forces and links to services to support the veteran community and concessions for which they may be entitled, as well as statistics on the veteran community.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7693
Authors: Louisa Brooke-Holland; Louisa Brooke-Holland; Claire Mills; Philip Loft; Djuna Thurley; Wendy Wilson; Steven Kennedy; Alexander Bellis; Andy Powell; Noel Dempsey; Tom Powell; Tim Jarrett