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Better Support For Forces And Families (MOD) 
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Post Better Support For Forces And Families (MOD)
Better Support For Forces And Families

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Source: MoD

A new cross-government strategy to improve support to the Armed Forces, past and present, and their families has been presented to Parliament by Defence Secretary Des Browne today, Thursday 17 July 2008.

The strategy, in a Service Personnel Command Paper (entitled The Nation's Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans), was initiated by the Prime Minister to improve the level of support given to Service personnel, their families and veterans and is the product of extensive consultation and close involvement with other Government Departments and Devolved Administrations.

In the eight months since the Command Paper was commissioned, Minister for the Armed Forces Bob Ainsworth has been supported by a team made up of personnel from all three Services and MOD civil servants, who have consulted with current and former Service Personnel, their families, Service charities, and Service Families Federations.

They have worked closely, in developing the strategy and the new measures, with other Government Departments and the Devolved Administrations.

One of the key strands of the strategy is that the Armed Forces should not be disadvantaged by the military lifestyle, while also making provision for unashamedly special treatment for those who make exceptional sacrifices in the course of duty.

The strategy includes around 40 new measures. These include:

• Improved Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The upfront lump sum compensation payment for the most serious injuries suffered by our soldiers, sailors and airmen in the course of their duties will be doubled. This is in addition to the index-linked, tax-free guaranteed income payment which, for example, might be worth £20,000 pa for life to a seriously injured 25-year-old. Combined, the increased lump sum and the ongoing guaranteed income payment wil take maximum individual total compensation to in excess of £1.5 millon;

• Retention of NHS waiting list places across the UK. Service families will, all things being equal, retain their relative place on NHS waiting lists wherever they move to in the UK;

• Free further or higher education for Service leavers. For Service leavers with more than six years' service, the Government will fund in full the tuition fees for either a first Level 3 (broadly A level or vocational equivalent) or a first Foundation or full degree;

• Improved access to educational opportunities for Service children. Including uninterrupted Special Educational Needs support and a review of admissions policy which will ensure that Service children are not disadvantaged in the allocation of school places;

• Expansion of options for finding homes. Steps to make it easier for Service leavers to find a home, either through the purchase of their own properties or through improved access to social housing;

• Improved support to Foreign and Commonwealth personnel. Dependants of F&C Service personnel will be eligible to apply for settlement when the Service member has completed five years' service.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy in London, Defence Secretary Des Browne said:

"Our Armed Forces are truly inspiring – every day they risk their lives to keep us safe – and it is a fundamental duty of government to support them and their families. I think this Command Paper presents a package of measures that will make a real difference to the everyday lives of our forces and their families.

"It will improve their access to public services and for the most seriously injured it will ensure a significant increase in the amount of compensation that they get paid. I think it offers significant progress and we now have to make sure we deliver that change."

Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup added:

"Our Servicemen and women achieve great things on a daily basis in testing conditions all over the world. They, and their families, also face unique demands that make their achievements all the more remarkable.

"As a nation, we have a duty to make sure that our Armed Forces are treated fairly whether they are home or abroad, and that is why this Service Personnel Command Paper is so important. My fellow Chiefs and I welcome this paper. It will ensure our Armed Forces and their dependants are not disadvantaged by their Service life, and in some cases enjoy special treatment befitting of their daily sacrifice on behalf of us all."

This is the first time the Government has taken a strategic cross-departmental approach to the support of our people. Many Departments have worked together to produce these improvements and each will follow through with guidance, policy and legislation as necessary to ensure implementation.

Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:35 pm
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