Memorandum from The British Legion (28
Thank you for your letter of 3 July requesting
a memorandum, by the end of September, covering those subjects
the Legion would wish to comment on in the inquiry into Armed
Forces personnel issues. I have delayed in responding in anticipation
of the publication of the MoD's paper relating to compensation;
sadly I understand that it is now not expected before the end
of the year. Having therefore carefully considered the items listed
the Legion would wish to provide input in the following areas:
Pensions and Compensation
Issues of current concern.
There are no appeal rights for MoD decisions
relating to Service Pensions under the present system. With any
harmonisation of War Pensions and Service Pensions it is hoped
that an independent appeal system will be introduced modelled
on the current War Pensions Appeal Tribunal. It is noted that
as of next year (April 2001) the Appeal Tribunal has extended
authority to hear appeals for War Pensions Allowances, something
the Legion have been pressing for many years.
Attributable Forces Family Pensions have now
been awarded to Widows who remarry but these unlike Attributable
Service Retirement Pensions are subject to Income Tax; this anomaly
should be addressed.
In any transitional arrangements introduced
to harmonise War Pensions and Service Pensions the current War
Pensions Appeal system should remain in being for at least the
next 10 years to hear appeals brought for Pensions awarded before
the notification of any change.
War Widows Pensions once awarded and in payment
should remain so for the Widow's lifetime regardless of remarriage,
divorce, etc. There are currently too many anomalies in this area.
The current system of MoD Compensation, under
the 1987 Crown Proceedings Act is seen to be fair and indeed in
line with the civilian equivalent. The Legion would wish to see
this arrangement retained in any changes introduced for Pensions
Pre and post 1973 pensions should be equal in
value. The current system of one third pre '73 and one half post
'73 is one of the most sad anomalies within the whole network
of service pension awards and should be addressed with urgency.
Post service marriages recognised since 1978
should be made retrospective in line with most public sector organisations,
pay and pensions reviews.
The Legion has been promised that it will be
fully consulted on any proposals to harmonise War Pensions and
Service Pensions. It is very concerned by the ongoing delay in
the production of the consultation paper and it is considered
that this promise must be fully honoured.
The Royal British Legion Training College, based
at Tidworth, Hampshire, provides resettlement training courses
to Service leavers, as a preferred supplier for the resettlement
provision of the MoD Career Transition Partnership (CTP). From
1 January 2001 the College will operate in association with Salisbury
College and will continue to offer courses in IT, Management and
Health and Safety. It also has three star hotel accommodation
and provides a cre"che for local inhabitants, including Service
In addition, the Legion provides, at the Legion
Village in Aylesford, Kent, physical and mental assessment for
para- and quadriplegically disabled people. During a three day
residential course, tests are carried out that allow advice to
be given on the training and employment that might be undertaken.
This centre is similar to the Tri-Service Headley Court Rehabilitation
Centre, but has the advantage of having the Churchill Centre on
the same site, that is a specialist physiotherapy unit, partly
funded by the local National Health Trust.
The facilities described above are already being
used by the MoD in resettlement and rehabilitation programmes
and it is considered that their extended use should be included
in the MoD's plans for the future.
The Legion currently provides information and
assistance on a wide range of matters concerning the transition
from Service to Civilian life. As well as assistance with training
for the Service Leaver, further advice and funding is available
for the unemployed ex-Service person requiring training for a
specific job, through the Legion's Career Advice Centre. Advice
and funding is also available from the Legion's Small Business
Advice Centre for those wanting to set up a small business. In
addition the Legion's Resettlement Advice Centre not only mentions
the above subjects, but acts as a pointer to other organisations
offering help with housing, welfare and employment.
The Legion also provides the welfare support
and comradeship, through membership, for ex-Service people of
all ranks throughout the remainder of their lives, unrealised
by many ex-Service people who have never been properly briefed.
Our concerns are that many Service Leavers do
not receive the advice and, often, the training to which they
are eligible, because they may have been told that they were ineligible
or their unit could not, or would not, release them due to operational
requirements. There are also many cases of those being medically
discharged, finding themselves at home waiting for discharge,
but without support, because they live away from their unit or
the unit is deployed abroad on operational or emergency tours.
Consideration should be given to designating the resettlement
eligibility, which may not be provided for the above reasons,
to an entitlement and ensuring that the Service Leaver receives
that entitlement before discharge, or can transfer it for use
after discharge, should there not be sufficient time for the full
resettlement package to be undertaken before leaving.
To answer the need for a co-ordinated policy
to ensure all Service Leavers receive the correct resettlement
assistance, it is recommended that the Legion (and other Service
Charities) should be involved in the Armed Forces Overarching
Personnel Strategy review. Currently many problems for Service
Leavers are resolved at "local" level by the Legion
and others, but the problem and the way it is resolved never become
part of general knowledge.
I hope my comments above will be of assistance
in your enquiry into Armed Forces personnel issues. The Legion
will, of course, be available to provide any assistance or advice