MPs call for ‘urgent’ investigation into ‘treating veterans like criminals’ benefits scandal

The way ex-armed forces are being threatened is a national scandal, MPs have heard, with heavy criticism of both the war pension and the armed forces’ compensation scheme

Soldiers march in a line
The current system is a “national scandal,” MEPs heard

MEPs are calling for a full investigation into the Veterans Benefits System who said it was a “national scandal that should make us all hang our heads in shame”.

Speaking in the House of Commons last night, MPs heard that the current system treats veterans as if they were trying to “cheat the system”.

Veterans receive benefits if they have been physically or mentally harmed while on duty—at least on paper.

Beneficiaries for events prior to April 6, 2005 may apply for War Pensions. After that they have to go to the Compensation Office of the Armed Forces (AFCS).

The system is designed to help veterans, but it actually pushes many into poverty, disease and, sadly, even suicide, MPs said — and such The mirror has reported .

The latest scathing criticism of the War Pension Scheme and AFCS came after MP Owen Thompson secured a debate in the House of Commons over how these work.

SNP MP Owen Thompson leading a group of campaign MPs



MPs voted to pass the motion, meaning the government is likely to open an inquiry into Veterans UK, the part of the MOD that administers benefits.

However, Westminster insiders said the government could choose to simply ignore the issue.

In a fiery speech opening the debate, Thompson said: “Yes, there are war pensions and the indemnity system, but the way they are administered is a national scandal that should put us all to shame.

“The process, as it stands, works to discourage veterans from making their claims.

“It’s a process that’s inherently suspicious and assumes veterans are trying to cheat the system.

Thompson has been campaigning on this issue since his constituent Garry McDermott alerted him to how widespread the problem is.

McDermott is a Royal Scots veteran and has been struggling to get the right compensation out of the MOD for more than 10 years.

MoD figures show that only half of those who used the AFCS and a third of those who used the War Pension Scheme each scored only a 10 or “very dissatisfied” rating.

MPs also heard that the Department of Defense does not store data on veterans who give up their claims and that evidence from army medical records is “regularly ignored.”

Scottish National Party MP Carol Monaghan said: “Most of us speaking tonight recognize that the system needs reform.”

This should be designed with the trauma of veterans in mind, she continued, adding that the government is currently “putting cost-cutting ahead of compensation.”

Monaghan also noted that when veterans contest their claims in court, they report that important medical evidence has disappeared from their bundles.

Sadly, some veterans died by suicide in the time it took for the MOD to hear their claims, she continued.

Labor MP and shadow Veterans Secretary Stephanie Peacock said that “far too many veterans are being denied the payments to which they are entitled”.

In response, Defense Secretary Leo Doherty, a Scottish Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he disagreed with Thompson’s “overwhelmingly damning indictment of the system.”

He added: “We are looking to improve claims handling first, but also customer service. However, I reiterate that it is not about saving money.”

He said the veterans benefits system “recognizes the level of service to our amazing veterans community, which is more than 2 million people, but of course in an organization of this size there will be some instances that don’t receive the appropriate level of benefits”.

Doherty added that out of 106,000 veteran payouts, 154 complaints were received — a 0.1% error rate.

That figure was hotly disputed by veterans after the debate, with three former servicemen interviewed by The Mirror responsible for 40 complaints.

The veterans’ organization Justice4Troops, which is not currently active, has done so heard of 2,500 problems alone.

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