Council Motion: Making the Benefits System Fit for Service

Under the Armed Forces Covenant, Local Authorities have a duty to ensure the Armed Forces community do not face disadvantage in the provision of services.

However many Armed Forces veterans who have been awarded military compensation for injury, trauma and hardship caused in the line of their service find that this compensation interacts with other benefits and can affect their entitlement to discretionary payments provided by Local Councils – such as Council Tax Support, Discretionary Housing Payments and Disabled Facilities Grants.

Some national benefits – such as Universal Credit – disregard military compensation as income when assessing entitlement to benefits.

Below is a template Council Motion produced by the Royal British Legion that you can use to call on your Council to do the same and disregard military compensation for veterans applying for discretionary payments and grants.

You can find out more about the Royal British Legion’s campaign to ‘Make the Benefits System Fit for Service’ here.

Template Council Motion:

This Council notes;

  • The obligations it owes to the Armed Forces community with INSERT COUNCIL AREA as enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant; that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage in the provision of services and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have give the most.
  • That in the course of their service in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, some members of the Armed Forces Community, by virtue of the often dangerous and risky nature of their work, or environments in which they are required to operate, become wounded, injured or sick in such a way that affects their life in a permanent and significant way.
  • That a number of military compensation schemes exist to recognise and compensate Service Personnel and sometimes their families, for the hardship, inconvenience or ongoing impact conditions such as PTSD, limb loss, hearing loss etc., represents for them.
  • Military compensation can be awarded through the War Pension Scheme (WPS), Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) or through a veteran’s occupational occupation Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS), known as Service Invaliding Pensions (SIPs) or Service Attributable Pensions (SAPs). Compensation awards under these schemes may also include supplementary payments. This compensation often interacts with benefits issued through Local Authorities and may impact a veteran’s entitlement to such benefits.
  • That whilst some benefits such as Universal Credit rightly disregard military compensation as income, others administered by or subject to the discretion of Local Authorities, do not always do so, meaning that some veterans must give up their compensation to access essential financial support.

In light of the above this council resolves;

  • That no member of the Armed Forces Community should be forced to give up their military compensation to access the same welfare support as their civilian counterparts.
  • That compensation pad under any of the relevant military schemes should be treated as such and not regarded as income when the Local Authority assesses application for benefits over which they exercise discretion, such as but not limited to, Council Tax Support schemes, Discretionary Housing Payments and Disabled Facilities Grants [UNITARY AND UPPER TIER AUTHORITIES ONLY]. Rather it should be treated as intended, as a compensatory payment made in recognition of the often significant and life changing service or sacrifice an individual has made in the course of their service in our nation’s Armed Forces.
  • To support the Royal British Legion’s call for all forms of military compensation to be disregarded as income in the assessment and administration of locally administered benefits over which this council exercises discretion.
  • To ask the relevant cabinet member / committee chair / senior officer [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE] to investigate amending relevant local policies to reflect such a position, drawing upon the recommendations and findings of the Royal British Legion’s 2020 report Making the Benefits System Fit for Service.
  • For further relevant cabinet member to update members on this work, reporting back to them at a future meeting.

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