The outcome of Admiral Lord Boyce’s review of the armed forces compensation scheme (AFCS) was announced in February. While the review found that the AFCS was fundamentally sound it made a number of recommendations for improvement. The majority of these improvements require legislative amendment to the scheme. While all the changes recommended by Lord Boyce will be implemented in new legislation by February 2011, I have taken the opportunity to make some changes more quickly, and these will take effect in early August.
Most importantly, the time limit to make a claim for injury or illness is to be increased from five to seven years. This ensures anyone who wishes to make a claim for compensation for an injury or illness that has arisen since the scheme was introduced in 2005 can still make a claim.
As well as the increase to time-limits, I have also made the following changes:
Increase in the maximum level of bereavement grant from £20,000 to £25,000. This reflects the increase in armed forces pay since 2005, and as a result the only change recommended by Lord Boyce as applying to future claimants only.
Increase in the maximum level of bereavement grant for reservists who are not members of a reserve forces pension scheme to £37,500, to help bring their benefits in line with their regular forces colleagues.
Uplift of the majority of awards for hearing loss by one tariff level.
No one will lose out as a result of these changes, or those that are to be implemented next year. All those who have already made a claim under the scheme since 6 April 2005 will have their award automatically revisited and will receive an uplift. Due to the complexity involved in revisiting such a large number of previous awards, this process will take time. We aim to have all additional payments made by June 2012.
Making these changes demonstrates the Government’s commitment to injured service personnel, and to implementing the recommendations of the Boyce review as soon as is practicable. I will provide a further update when the remainder of the recommendations are put in legislation early next year, after which time the review of awards already made can commence.