My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Kevan Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today announcing a change to the role of the existing War Pensions Committees. This follows a review of their terms of reference and a consultation with organisations representing serving personnel and the ex-service community.
The new committees will be known as Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees and will initially be piloted across the country for a period of 12 months, with a review point at six months. There will be 13 committees established across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, made up of volunteers from a cross-section of the local community. Members will include health, social care and legal professionals with an interest in ensuring that the best possible service is provided for veterans and their families.
Their role will consist of three main elements:
to act as advocates for implementing improved cross-government support, including services outlined in the service personnel Command Paper and recently announced welfare pathway;
to raise awareness, within their areas, of the above services, the war pension scheme, Armed Forces compensation scheme and the Veterans Welfare Service;
to assist veterans and their families in accessing local support services as described above and, further, to provide assistance and guidance to individuals in accessing the war pension scheme and Armed Forces compensation scheme and to provide an independent element to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency’s complaints process relating to these schemes.
By extending the role of the committees to include an advocacy role, at local level, we are demonstrating the commitment of the Government to embed these initiatives across the country.