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AFCS and veterans fighting for compensation

I listened to File on 4’s excellent Podcast The Final Battle: Veterans fighting for compensation last night having spoken to producer Vicky Carter while she was sourcing content for the programme last year.


The podcast hears from veterans who have made huge sacrifices for their country but have been abandoned by the MoD after leaving the forces.


There are two compensation schemes for veterans who’ve suffered injury or illness as a result of service - the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme - or AFCS - and the War Pension Scheme.


Listening to the podcast, it was distressing to hear about the experiences of veterans with the AFCS and War Pension Scheme.


I know from my own extensive experience advising service personnel and veterans that it is a shockingly unfair process.


It has been abundantly clear for a number of years that the AFCS, which is under staffed and under resourced, is unfit for purpose and desperately in need of reform.


Indeed, in my role as Chair of the Royal British Legion Solicitors Group, I prepared a paper highlighting its flaws back in 2005.


The schemes are managed by Veterans UK which is run by the Ministry of Defence.  It is therefore in the best interests of Veterans UK to reject applications. The conflict of interest is clear for all to see.  


The AFCS is ‘no-fault’, meaning that if there is payment the MoD does not accept any fault for the injuries or illnesses claimed for by service personnel. Ever since the scheme was introduced in 2005, there has been lack of public accountability.


A recent survey by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Veterans also exposed the miserable experiences of veterans trying to make a claim under the AFCS. The survey found some veterans were made to feel like criminals and had even contemplated suicide.


The All-Party Parliamentary Group survey found 75% of veterans rated their experience of the AFCS as poor, while 84% said not enough consideration had been given to their mental or physical health.


The research follows on from a survey by Hilary Meredith Solicitors, which suggests thousands of valid claims to the AFCS are being rejected in the first instance, with veterans forced into a lengthy, unnecessary and protracted appeals process.   Vulnerable applicants are given no help.


Veterans in dispute with the MoD should be able to turn to an agency in a different government department for support, to avoid the current conflict of interest (which also involves the MoD’s failure to tell applicants that they have a civil claim through the courts worth far in excess of their AFCS award).


I believe a commission should now be formed to overhaul the whole process. 


Hilary Meredith-Beckham.


At Hilary Meredith Solicitors we have a proven track record advising service personnel and veterans on making new AFCS claims and appealing decisions and awards.  Contact our specialist AFCS team today for a free consultation.

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