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The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

Current and former armed forces personnel can claim compensation for any injury or illness caused, or made worse by, service. Family members may claim for compensation for personnel whose death was caused by service.

The armed forces compensation scheme (ACFS) provides a lump sum payment for pain and suffering. For those who suffer significant loss of earning capacity, the scheme also offers a regular tax-free ‘Guaranteed Income Payment’ (GIP), payable for life.

The Library briefing on the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (CBP-7923) explains what the scheme does, eligibility, types of awards and criticisms of the scheme.

The scheme was introduced in 2005 and is subject to a formal quinquennial review.

Main findings of the review

On 17 July 2023 the Government published the second quinquennial review

The review finds the scheme appears to work well where a claim is made for an acute injury or illness (for example an injury or illness from which the claimant recovers with little or no lasting side effects), and claims pertaining to death attributable to service.

However, the review finds that the vast majority of the issues raised concern the handling of complex cases by the MOD. The review found that “it is those with injuries with longer term impacts, illnesses and disorders for whom it appears the Scheme is least effective if not detrimental.” Most claimants told the review that they felt the relationship between claimants and their caseworkers “was an adversarial one”.

The review concludes the objectives of the scheme were not being met because there is:

  • A perceived lack of empathy on the part of the MOD in making decisions.
  • Inefficiency with regard to the effective but fair use of resources.
  • Inconsistency (therefore, unfairness) within the Scheme.
  • A lack of effort to ensure and safeguard transparency and independence in both the policy and decision-making processes.
  • A lack of resilience as the Scheme is insufficiently flexible in its ability to incorporate developments.

The review also criticises Veterans UK, the MOD agency, whose helpline agents “are specifically trained to act as a barrier between claimants and their caseworkers”.

The review makes 67 recommendations. 

When will the Government respond to the review?

The Government has said it will publish its response to the report later in 2023

This briefing summarises the general findings and main recommendations of the 2023 quinquennial review.

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