Veteran's Strategy - Have your say

On 14 November 2018, the UK Government published The Strategy for Our Veterans - a wide ranging UK Veterans Strategy setting out the principles and aims of support for the veteran community for the next ten years.

Alongside the Strategy, the national and devolved governments of the UK, Scotland and Wales consulted through to mid-February 2019 on how the aims and principles of the strategy can be implemented. The Royal British Legion formed an organisational response to the consultation, which drew on existing research, information gained from UK-wide focus groups and an online survey that was available to Legion members and supporters.

In total, the Legion put forward 136 recommendations to the UK Government on how to implement the Strategy. A summary of our recommendations are set out below.

The Royal British Legion's repsonse

Over the course of the consultation period, the Legion undertook ten focus groups and involved members of the Armed Forces community, sector partners and Legion members. Additionally, the Legion encouraged members, supporters and beneficiaries to respond to the consultation in an independent capacity through an online survey which mirrored the consultation documents and directly to the Ministry of Defence. We were delighted to have received over 100 responses to the survey which fed into the Legion’s response. Thank you to all those who took part in this important exercise.

The Legion’s response to the UK Government explored the cross-cutting factors and key themes in detail. Where possible we included recommendations for the Government on how support provision for veterans, and others in the community where they came within scope, could be practically and tangibly improved. In total the Legion put forward 136 recommendations to the Government. Contained within these recommendations were outstanding Legion calls for action from previous manifestos and campaigns:

  • Housing provision for divorced and separated partners;
  • Research into treatment for Gulf War illnesses;
  • A new veterans census question in 2021;
  • Compensation disregards from Social care means tests in Northern Ireland;
  • Transfer of clinical notes between Service and the NHS; and
  • Local assessments of Social Isolation within the Armed Forces communities.

Additionally, the Legion highlighted the following recommendations as priorities:

  • The Ministry of Defence review Veterans UK processes for improvements, including the enhanced use of digital platforms, improved pension advice and their role in coordinating activity;
  • The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government monitor, evaluate and enhance support for local authorities’ implementation of Covenant delivery infrastructure. The Government should also retain the option of giving legal force to the Covenant;
  • Introduce a standardised question that all public bodies ask to improve identification of members of the Armed Forces community, exploring the feasibility of a “tell me once” service;
  • The Ministry of Defence implement more robust and proactive communications strategies to respond to negative and inaccurate media stories on veterans, utilising a wider range of spokespeople from the Armed Forces community;
  • The Government commit to permanently funding the maintenance of the national Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum;
  • The Ministry of Defence and Defence Relationship Management provide an enhanced package of education and practical support to business covenant signatories, looking further than their role as employers;
  • Armed Forces compensation is routinely disregarded from all statutory means tests. Where possible, this should include War Widows’ Pensions;
  • The Home Office waive Indefinite Leave to Remain fees for Commonwealth Armed Forces Personnel and their dependants with immediate effect;
  • A multi-stakeholder working group is established to come to an agreed definition of Priority Treatment; and
  • The Government publishes a five-year statement on progress against each of the recommendations in the Phillips review.

Further details on all the Legion’s recommendations can be found in the Legion's consultation response

Next steps

The UK Government consultation on The Strategy for Our Veterans closed on 21 February 2019. It is expected that the Government will consider the submissions it has received in order to publish a response in early summer 2019. The Legion will continue to engage with the Government where we can to follow up on the recommendations provided.