Clwyd South MS backs Royal British Legion over veterans’ compensation
The Member of the Senedd for Clwyd South is backing a Royal British Legion campaign to stop veterans missing out on thousands of pounds every year.
Ken Skates MS raised the RBL’s ‘Credit their Service’ initiative in the Senedd earlier this month.
Described by the charity as ‘a national call to action’, it advocates for military compensation to be excluded from Pension Credit means-testing.
Addressing Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn, Mr Skates said: “Remembrance, of course, is a time for everybody to come together, to unite across cultures, backgrounds and all faiths to remember those who have served to protect our democratic freedoms and ways of life.
“I’m sure that you’ll be familiar with the Royal British Legion’s campaign, Credit their Service. It calls on councils to revise their policies to ensure that military compensation is not included in means-testing for benefits, and at present only three local authorities fully disregard the compensation. I’m pleased to say that one of those local authorities is my own in Wrexham.
“What discussions has the Welsh Government had with both UK Government and representatives of local authorities in Wales on this issue, and would you join me in supporting the Royal British Legion’s campaign?”
The Deputy Minister responded: “You’re right to raise the work of the Royal British Legion, particularly as we come out of the annual remembrance period.
“We’ll predominantly be familiar with them in the remembrance period for the poppy selling, but you raise the work that they do around campaigning and calling for change as well.
“We work very closely with the Royal British Legion, not least because they’re a member of our Armed Forces expert group.
“We have been in contact with them with regard to the Credit their Service campaign, and officials have met with the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the UK Government too regarding the issues raised in the campaign.
“We’ve also raised that with the Welsh Local Government Association too, and our Armed Forces liaison officers, who are the contacts who work really closely with local authorities and who deliver so much support to our veterans and Armed Forces community in Wales.”
She added: “It’s my understanding that the campaign covers both devolved and reserved matters, and so we’re going to work with those partners to examine what further action might be required on our part.
“It’s something that I’m committed to and happy to discuss, and happy to follow up.”
Ms Blythyn said she would work with Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, ‘to see, actually, are there more things that we can do to make sure we support our veterans’.
After plenary, Mr Skates welcomed the Welsh Government’s support.
He added: “Data from the last Census shows that around 115,000 people in Wales, which is about 4.5% of residents aged 16 or older, have served in the Armed Forces. At the time, there were more than 1,300 veterans in North Wales who were over the age of 65, widowed, living alone, disabled and self-reported as being in ‘a not good state of health’.
“Veterans and their families, who have endured suffering and loss due to their service, deserve appropriate compensation. The Credit their Service campaign is rooted in the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, which pledges that those who serve will not be disadvantaged.
“Even though military compensation is involved in more than 10,000 UK benefit awards each year, 80% of councils still consider it as income.
” Only three Welsh councils currently fully disregard the compensation – that needs to change, and that’s why I’m supporting this campaign.”
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