Military personnel continue to experience disadvantage during and after their service and a leading Armed Forces charity is calling on politicians from all parties to take urgent action. Poppyscotland launched the charity’s first ever manifesto ahead of Scottish Parliamentary elections on 18 January. The manifesto includes six actions that can be taken to improve the support available for the Armed Forces community in Scotland.
Veterans currently find their social security benefits can be reduced because compensation for injury and illness sustained during service is treated as income. This can see some receive lower benefit payments than non-veterans, effectively disadvantaging them because of their disability. One of the recommendations contained in Poppyscotland’s manifesto is for the next Scottish Government to fully exempt military compensation from financial assessments for social security benefits, ending this unfair anomaly.
Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Poppyscotland Manifesto, the charity’s Chief Executive Mark Collins said:
“While great progress has been made over the past decade in the support available to the Armed Forces community in Scotland, too often veterans and their families face disadvantage and barriers.
“Poppyscotland has developed this manifesto to provide clarity and focus around the issues we believe to be of greatest importance, as well as setting out in detail how we feel these recommendations can be taken forward by the next Scottish Government. It all starts with positive health and wellbeing, as well as feeling secure in a place that our Armed Forces community can call home.
“Changes to the social security system to address the unfair treatment of military compensation is an important start, but our research has also highlighted that many veterans and their families who apply for social housing struggle to navigate their way through the complex process.
“Poppyscotland is therefore calling for the establishment of a Veterans’ Housing Action Group with powers to review challenging cases, oversee the effective implementation of the Veterans’ Housing Pathway, and act on any recommendations it makes.”
Other recommendations focus on improving the quality of physical and mental health support available to veterans. Mr Collins added:
“This manifesto sets out what we believe should be priorities for the next Scottish Government to improve the lives of our Armed Forces community. It has been informed by evidence, experience and developed in consultation with the beneficiaries we support.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that the unique contribution of the whole Armed Forces community is given the recognition it requires and that we stand behind them, always.”
Poppyscotland provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community. Money raised from the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal and the charity’s year-round fundraising enables them to deliver support to members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland by providing tailored support and funding. Poppyscotland also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health and mobility.