Reduction and Simplification of the welfare bill by granting certain rights to Veterans

Comment C.R.Cooper 5th February 2016

This information deals with another matter that if implemented would go some way towards helping veterans of all ages but in particular those of the Pre-1975 era, and as a by product go some way towards simplifying and therefore reducing the overall welfare ‘bill’

I am a member of a group of Veterans group from all Three services that are concerned with Veterans pensions, in particular the Pre-1975 era. And as a group we are considering raising a petition as a step towards having the matter discussed at government level.

This document is not meant to supersede or replace any petition / document being produced by any group that is currently in the process of getting support.

INFORMATION TO SUPPORT THE GRANTING CERTAIN ‘RIGHTS’ TO VETERANS OF ALL AGE’s AND LENGTH OF SERVICE. (In Brief)
1.
At this time if you left military service after 1975 and served for a minimum of 5 years you were eligible for a military pension, this later changed to 2 years, but was not applied retrospectively there are certain age limits, there are several official documents covering this subject.

2.
If you left military service before 1975 you do not get a military pension unless you served for 22 years (for other ranks)and 18 years for officers. Many of those who were serving before 1975 may have served, for example up to 20 years of a 22 year term
before being made redundant under a defence cuts and so did not qualify for a pension.

3.
Many of these ex-servicemen and women were unable to ‘sign on’ to complete the required time period of 22 years for a variety of reasons,
defence cut backs, specialty no longer required, too senior, etc..It should be noted that all defence cuts etc. were published in the national press and considered to be in the public domain, however a large number of service personnel were unaware of this for a variety of reasons such as being on overseas duty.

4.
Many of these ex-servicemen and women are what are now called ‘Cold War Warriors’ having served in Korea, Malay, Kenya, Cyprus, Aden,
Malaysia, Northern Ireland and many other of the conflicts that the United Kingdom was involved in during period from 1946 to late 1970’s.

5.
Many of these ex-servicemen and women are ‘walking wounded’ and are supported by organisations such as COMBAT STRESS, SOLDIERS OFF THE STREETS, and SSAFA to mention a few.To many of these ex-servicemen and women the cost of medication (Prescriptions)and housing is a large expense and in some cases puts them on the streets, the idea of granting certain rights similar to Pension credits to Veterans would go some way to easing this. They do NOT SHOW UP IN OFFICIAL figures as they are dealt with by charities

6.
Pension Credits, if you qualify, it is a means tested benefit , it entitles you to FREE MEDICAL (Prescriptions) FREE DENTAL CARE, FREE
LEGAL COSTS and other benefits such as HOUSING SUPPORT. Granting of similar benefits as A RIGHT to a member of the armed forces ON DISCHARGE would go a long way to reducing the number that become reliant on the state and charities, it would also ease their transition to civilian life.Further granting the automatic right to a monetary sum similar to that given as ‘Pension Credits’as a top to the National minimum for survival’ as laid down by the Government would reduce the numbers claiming various benefits, this could be implemented at Military retirement age or 60 years which ever is earlier. It could be granted when proof of military service is proved.

7.
If you are an LEGAL immigrant to this country and you reach the age of 60 you are automatically are eligible to receive Pension Credits, and if you qualify, ( it is means tested ), it entitles you to FREE MEDICAL (Prescriptions) FREE DENTAL CARE, FREE LEGAL COSTS and other benefits such as HOUSING SUPPORT.
The government states that you must have a minimum income every week, this is currently running at around £230.00 per week, so if you are
a ex serviceman surviving on a state pension of between £100 to £200 a week you must apply for Pension credits, it is means tested and not always granted.

8.
This seems to be an injustice where a person who served his / her country must apply for what should be theirs by right, it is proposed that a petition be raised to make it a right that all ex-servicemen / women who qualify be given the same rights as those who get Pension credits.

9.
A House of commons briefing document ( No. SN1151 dated 14.05.14 ) Produced for the business and transport section stated that, QUOTE
“Successive governments have argued that discretionary changes to improve the benefits from public service pension schemes should be
implemented from a current date for future service only. Improvements are not applied retrospectively, as to do otherwise would “make any worthwhile improvements unaffordable.” (Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words).
This implies that giving pensions to ex -military personnel who served prior to 1975 would be unaffordable. It should be noted that it was not considered unaffordable when they were asked to put themselves in harms way when serving.

10.
The scheme roughly outline above would almost certainly not be UNAFFORDABLE as most are probably in receipt of some form of benefit and this would replace any benefit if correctly implemented say via the new Universal credit.Additionally it would be seen by most as an earned right and not charity, making it a right and not means tested would go some way to helping those who are currently ‘disabled’ and unable to adjust to Civilian life. It would also go some way to addressing the ‘Duty of Care’ the military has to it’s former employees.
To address the idea of it being unaffordable it should be noted that due age this will be a declining expense. But the purchase of ‘DUCK PONDS’ is an increasing one.

11.
Further this should be seen as a first step to a study into the provision of a pro-rata pension to the same conditions as those serving after 1975.
Any such study should involve Veterans and Veteran’s organisations, as to being an UNAFFORDABLE expense, due the age of most of the veterans concerned it would be a decreasing expense.

Why does this matter?

It will show the willingness of the country to HONOUR the Military / Armed forces covenant, and its duty of care towards those who served the country in a very uncertain time.

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