Medway Liberal Democrats call on the Council for a fairer deal for local Armed Forces veterans
By Alan Wells/Tony Jeacock for Medway Liberal Democrats
*Image by Alan Wells
Medway Liberal Democrats are backing action to support local Armed Forces veterans who are struggling to claim the council benefits they are entitled to because they also receive military compensation.
Research from the Royal British Legion has found that though military compensation is disregarded when calculating most national benefits - such as Universal Credit - it is often used to means test local benefits administered by Councils such as housing support and Council Tax support. * Report attached.
We are calling on the Council to table a motion for military compensation to no longer affect veterans entitlement to local benefits. Military compensation is awarded to those who have those who have had their lives changed in service to our country. It helps people live with the injuries, disabilities, hardships and mental health problems that they may have sustained.
Local Liberal Democrat Campaigner, Tony Jeacock, himself being a veteran having served in the Corps of Royal Engineers and now a Caseworker for SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) regularly encounters veteran servicemen and women within the Medway Towns in need of home adaptations in order to improve their quality of life as a result of severe injuries sustained whilst serving Queen and country. Many are not in a financial position to afford the cost of adaptations, yet are often turned down by the local authority when seeking to secure a 'disabled facilities grant', despite the Authority's Occupational Therapist recommending the specific adaptations needed.
It is then that Tony has to try to secure the necessary funding from certain military charities such as SSAFA, the Royal Engineers Association (REA), the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF) the Royal British Legion (TRBL) and others.
Tony said "The Armed Forces Covenant, which Medway Council has signed up to, is supposedly designed to ensure that veterans are not being disadvantaged as a result of having served in the military. It would be nice to be able to believe this was not just a tick box exercise on the part of the Local Authority and for that matter, other local organisations and businesses.
A soldier signs-up with a blank cheque, some paying the ultimate price, killed in action, and others suffering either severe visible wounds or unseen mental wounds through PTSD. The cost is immense, so much so that whatever meagre compensation they receive from the military, it should not be deemed as 'income' and therefore should not be measured against any benefits they may otherwise be entitled to."
Compensation helps people to live a normal life. It is not a form of income. It's completely wrong that Medway Council counts military compensation as income when calculating discretionary local benefit payments. That's why the Liberal Democrats are urging the Council to table a Motion to put a stop to this and ensure that Council payments do not discriminate against Armed Forces veterans any longer.
We hope that this will be supported by all councillors regardless of political party. This is an issue where we should all come together to support veterans in Medway.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
You can find out more about the Royal British Legion's campaign to 'Make the Benefits System Fit for Service' here.