THE ARMED FORCES COVENANT
The Government recognises the need to ensure our Armed Forces, veterans and their families have the support they need, and are treated with the dignity they deserve. A new tri-Service Armed Forces Covenant was published in May 2011, setting out the key relationships between the Armed Forces, Government and the Nation.
• The Covenant defines the principles of removing disadvantage and allowing special provision in some circumstances in the access to public and commercial services. This has set a framework for policy making and delivery across Government and will improve the support available for the Armed Forces Community. For further information, please see the MOD website.
• As the Prime Minister proposed in June 2010, the Armed Forces Bill will enshrine the principles of Armed Forces Covenant in law. This is the first time that the existence of the Covenant will have been recognised in statute.
ARMED FORCES COMPENSATION SCHEME (AFCS)
The AFCS provides compensation for injuries, illness and death arising from Service since 6 April 2005. War pensions are paid to veterans with injuries caused by their service prior to this date.
• The AFCS covers all serving and ex-Service personnel and may provide a tax-free lump sum for pain and suffering, the size of which reflects the severity of injury or illness that has been sustained. Lump sum awards range from £1,200 to £570,000. The AFCS also provides a bereavement grant to survivors of Service personnel who die as a result of their service.
• For serious injuries and illness, the AFCS also provides an income stream known as the Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP). This is in addition to the lump sum and is a tax-free, index-linked monthly payment, paid from discharge until death. The GIP is an enhancement to an individual’s ill-health pension, paid to recognise that the injury or illness was sustained as a result of service. The scale of the payment is based on the severity of the injury, and age and salary on discharge.
• An Independent Medical Expert Group (IMEG) was established during the Lord Boyce Review of the Scheme in 2010 to advise on the appropriate levels of compensation for several specific injuries and illnesses, including mental health. The Group’s first report was published on 9 May 2011. The IMEG is now looking at how to best compensate for hearing loss, mental health problems and service-caused illnesses. Its findings will be published in the next year.
The welfare needs of Service personnel and their families remain a key priority. Any changes proposed to Terms and Conditions of Service will take into account the impact on welfare support. The Government remains committed to providing the best possible support to deployed personnel and their families through the Deployed Welfare Package.
• Operational Welfare. The Deployed Welfare Package is kept under constant review to ensure it meets the needs of both the Service person and their dependants. Free phone calls are available for 30 minutes per week. Wi-Fi access has been extended in operational areas, texting and internet facilities have been improved in Forward Operating Bases and the Families Welfare Grant doubled.
• Post. MOD and the Royal Mail continue to operate the Enduring Families Free Mail Service (EFFMS) for friends and families to send packages of up to 2 kg to named personnel in Afghanistan as well as HM Ships in support.
• Improved access to welfare services. The Government is launching an Armed Forces Community Covenant scheme, which will encourage local authorities, the private sector and the voluntary and community sector to provide targeted support for their local Armed Forces community. This should provide a better level of access to the support provided by public service providers.
• Rest and Recuperation. On 22 July 2010, the Government announced steps to maximise Service personnel’s rest and recuperation.
21st September 2011