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Pensions: Ex-servicemen

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons non-taxable war disablement pension is not disregarded in means-testing calculations for the provision of NHS and other services to armed services veterans. (286405)

Access to NHS services is a matter for my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.

Armed service veterans who are in receipt of pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income related employment and support allowance have access to free prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and other NHS services.

For all means-tested benefits income is normally taken fully into account when calculating entitlement. However, a £10 disregard is applied to payments of War Disablement Pension, War Widow’s Pension and their replacement under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme when calculating a person’s entitlement to these benefits. This disregard, which gives war pensioners an advantage over other groups, is made in recognition of the special nature of these payments.

Certain elements paid with War Disablement Pension are disregarded in full. These are constant attendance allowance, mobility supplement, severe disablement occupational allowance and dependency increases for anyone other than the applicant or his partner.

In addition to the statutory disregards mentioned, local authorities, who administer housing benefit and council tax benefit, have discretion to disregard all or part of a War Pension over and above the statutory £10 disregard. The cost of any further disregard is met by the local authority, not by central Government. It is, therefore, for each local authority to decide whether a higher disregard should apply.