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Researchers say DWP ‘should not impose benefits sanctions’ on injured veterans

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Ex-Service personnel with Service related physical or mental health injuries should not have benefit sanctions imposed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), say researchers.

The recommendation has been put forward in a Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) funded report, titled Sanctions, support and Service leavers: Social security benefits, welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life released today, Thursday 19th April.

The report, by the University of Salford and the University of York, is the first major study investigating the experiences of ex-Service personnel and the benefits system. 

A common experience was the perception that staff carrying out assessments for benefits sometimes had little understanding or, regard for, the mental health issues facing military veterans. 

Veterans using food banks

Evidence was generated largely from face-to-face interviews with 68 ex-Service personnel, a number of who were struggling financially, with many living with debts, rent arrears, court fines and some having to use food banks. 

These interim findings present nine recommendations, including: 

First study of its kind

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is the first study to look at the experiences of ex-Service personnel who need to use the benefits system. The recommendations included in the report will help provide the DWP with the information needed to increase the awareness of their staff to the needs of the Armed Forces community and improve the process for the ex-Service personnel that require welfare support.”

We found people who desperately did not want to claim benefits and only did so as a last resort, but who found the system baffling and had been given little preparation for dealing with it.

Dr Lisa Scullion, Associate Director of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford, who is leading the project, said: “We found people who desperately did not want to claim benefits and only did so as a last resort, but who found the system baffling and had been given little preparation for dealing with it. 

“Allowances are made to veterans who claim benefits as part of the Armed Forces Covenant but until now very little has been known about their experiences within the benefits system. This research has suggested that there is a gap between some of the Covenant commitments and what is actually experienced on the ground, and we would urge policy makers to look carefully at our findings and recommendations.”