The MOD today published the results of the comprehensive review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
The planned review was brought forward by Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth in July 2009 and examined the whole of the Scheme, from its basic principles through the levels of compensation for injured personnel, to how the Scheme evaluates claims.
The Review was conducted under the independent chairmanship of former Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral the Lord Boyce, and supported by an Independent Scrutiny Group whose members were drawn from academia, the medical profession, the legal profession, Service and ex-Service organisations and interested stakeholders representing injured personnel, their families, and the bereaved.
The Review Team received comments from over 200 individuals and groups, including serving members of the Armed Forces, their families, reservists, veterans, and the general public. Lord Boyce and his team visited serving Royal Navy, Army and RAF personnel in their bases and at Headley Court and the Admiral also spoke to Ministers, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the heads of the three services.
The review found several areas where the Scheme could be improved. All the members of the Independent Scrutiny Group unanimously endorsed the Review’s recommendations. The Secretary of State for Defence has agreed to implement all the recommendations made.
The key changes include:
• Increase the tax-free, index-linked Guaranteed Income Payment (which is paid for life) to reflect the lasting effect of more serious injuries; likely promotions; and extended retirement ages.
• The top level of award, already doubled in 2008, will remain at £570,000 but all other award levels will be increased.
• Those with the most serious multiple injuries will continue to receive full tariff value for each injury up to the maximum £570,000. The rules below that will change so that all injuries in a single incident will receive some compensation (rather than the first 3 injuries as now).
• The maximum award for mental illness will be increased.
• A new fast interim payment will be introduced so those injured can receive some compensation before the entire claims process is complete.
• A new expert medical body will be created to advise on compensation for particular injuries and illnesses such as hearing loss, mental health and genital injury.
• The burden of proof will remain largely as it is, but improvements will be made in cases of illness and where records have not been properly maintained.
• The time limits by which claims must be made will be increased.
• Improvements to the way in which the scheme is communicated to service personnel and their families, focusing on how the scheme works, what payments they might be entitled to, and the calculations behind them.
Admiral the Lord Boyce said:
“This has been a thorough and wide-ranging review, conducted with pace but also with rigour. I and my review team found that the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is essentially fit for purpose, but that there are significant improvements that can be made.
This review has taken full account of the advice provided by the members of the Independent Scrutiny Group, who have demonstrated their independence throughout the review by thoroughly deliberating and debating the issues in question.
“My recommendations have been accepted by defence ministers and I am confident they will work to introduce them into the Scheme as soon as possible.”
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said:
“It is vital that our Armed Forces know that if they are injured due to service they will be properly supported by the nation, and this includes getting the right compensation. This review concludes that the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme already goes a long way to meeting this goal, but makes a number of recommendations about how it should be improved. We have accepted all those recommendations and we are committed to implementing these changes as soon as possible. When these come into keffect, all those who have received compensation under the Scheme will benefit.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme provides compensation for injuries, illness and death arising from Service since 6 April 2005. For injury and illness, the Scheme provides a tariff based lump sum for pain and suffering in recognition of the sacrifice made on the Nation’s behalf. For the more seriously injured it provides a Guaranteed Income Payment, payable on discharge, which is tax-free and index-linked for life. The Scheme also makes payments in the case of death to Widows, Widowers, Civil Partners, and eligible partners, and to dependant children. AFCS, unlike its predecessor, makes payments to injured personnel while they are still in service.
2. Implementation of the Review will involve legislation, which will take time to deliver. Changes however will exceptionally apply to all those who have received compensation under this Scheme, going back to 2005.
3. On 29 July 2009, the Secretary of State for Defence brought forward a planned review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Given the importance of ensuring the Armed Forces were receiving the right compensation, he asked Admiral the Lord Boyce to lead the review as independent chairman. Lord Boyce has been supported by a mixed military and civilian MOD team, and has also chaired an Independent Scrutiny Group to advise, support and support the Review. The members of that group were:
Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO OBE DL (Controller of the Army Benevolent Fund, representing the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations)
Lt Col Jerome Church MBE (General Secretary of the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association, representing the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations)
Chris Simpkins (Director General, the Royal British Legion)
Colonel David Richmond (a serving member of the Armed Forces who suffered an AK47 bullet wound that shattered his femur in Afghanistan in June 2008 when Commanding Officer of 5SCOTS)
Kim Richardson OBE (Chair of the Naval Families Federation, representing all Service Family Federations)
Gill Grigg MBE (Chair of War Widows Association of Great Britain, representing all Widows Associations)
Professor David Bonner (Professor of Law at the University of Leicester)
Simon Levene (Barrister at 12 Kings Bench Walk Chambers)
Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor CBE FMedsci (Deputy Principal of the Faculty of Medicine, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Imperial College
London, Consultant Physician at Royal Brompton Hospital)
Dr David Snashall MSc, FRCP, FFOM, LLM (Senior Lecturer in Occupational Medicine, King’s
College London; Honorary Consultant & Clinical Director,Occupational Health Department, Guy’s & St.Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust)
Professor David Alexander MA (Hons) C.Psychol PhD FBPS FRSM (Hon) FRCPsych (Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research and Professor of Mental
Health in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen)
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