INJURED veterans are struggling to access the benefits they need, according to a new report published today by leading Armed Forces charity Poppyscotland. Together with the Royal British Legion, the charities have made a series of recommendations to the Scottish and UK Governments to improve the Social Security system in the way it supports disabled veterans.
Mark Collins, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland said:
“This is a time of year when the sacrifices of our Armed Forces community have been front of mind for many, but as the Poppy Appeal and remembrance-tide passes, it is vital that we continue to address areas where they are disadvantaged.
“Today’s report highlights that injured veterans often struggle to access benefits because the system doesn’t understand their needs or time in service. Too many face challenges accessing the essential financial support that they need and deserve.”
The report, entitled ‘Making the Benefits System Fit for Service: Improving Support for Veterans with Military Compensation’, makes it clear that the Scottish Government, Social Security Scotland, Department for Work and Pensions and Ministry of Defence need to work together to collect better data and to share this, where appropriate, between agencies. The charities believe doing so will help to simplify the application and process of receiving benefits and create a system which works for disabled veterans.
Poppyscotland has also written to the Scottish Government to ask for an Armed Forces and Veterans Champion Network to be established in Social Security Scotland. Such a network currently exists within the Department for Work and Pensions and the recommendation is to establish similar structures within Social Security Scotland, but with a number of improvements.
Mr Collins added:
“The evolution of Scotland’s Social Security system presents many opportunities to make a positive, meaningful difference for the Armed Forces community in Scotland.
“Our recommendations include Social Security Scotland establishing a nationwide Armed Forces and Veterans Champion network within the agency, providing focused engagement with those who have served, those still serving and their families. We are also calling for improved data sharing and collaboration between Scottish and UK agencies, allow them to better understand the specific needs of the Armed Forces community in Scotland.”
The report makes use of the experiences of advisers and veterans from the Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP), a service funded by Poppyscotland and delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland. Thousands of members of the Armed Forces community have accessed ASAP over the past ten years with the majority reporting difficulties in accessing social security benefits.
Later today Poppyscotland and the Royal British Legion are hosting a virtual launch of the report at which politicians, government officials, charity representatives, and members of the Armed Forces community from all over the UK will learn more about the report’s findings and recommendations.
Also speaking at the virtual event will be ASAP beneficiary Mark Prattwho, who will be discussing his experiences of the Social Security System. This will be followed later in the day by the Scottish Government’s annual veterans update from Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans Graeme Dey MSP, and a parliamentary debate at which the issues raised in the report are expected to be discussed.