Ex-Service Personnel

The Following Parliamentary Question may be of interest to ex-Forces Rum Rationers:-

HC Hansard: 4 June 2007 (written)

Ex-servicemen: Council Housing

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice his Department gives to members of HM Armed Forces who resign on their right to apply for local authority housing accommodation. [138446]

Derek Twigg: All regular service leavers, not just those who resign, are provided with information on sources of housing help in their leaving information packs which are usually issued nine months before discharge. A Life Skills Guide which is available on the internet also advises how to apply for local authority housing, and provides details of useful websites and agencies.

Early service leavers attend a mandatory briefing on resettlement issues and an interview in which their personal resettlement plan is developed and their accommodation arrangements reviewed. The resettlement officer makes an assessment of the leaver's vulnerability to social exclusion and, if appropriate, offers to arrange extra specialist help or advice.

The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides a dedicated MOD focal point for housing information and advice for those about to return to civilian life. The JSHAO gives regular nationwide briefings advising personnel of their housing options. Each service also has resettlement specialist officers who are available to give advice to service personnel at any time during their careers.

Ex-servicemen: Health Services

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 May 2007, Official Report, column 1853W, on ex-servicemen: health services, how many cases the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency is currently monitoring. [140106]

Derek Twigg: Regular reminders about priority treatment for war pensioners are circulated by the health services to senior NHS managers who are tasked to ensure that relevant clinical staff are aware. The provision is subject to the NHS complaints procedure but there is no formal system of audit. From April 2007, the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) will keep a record of cases where war pensioners raise priority treatment issues with MOD or SPVA. No cases are currently being monitored.

Armed Forces: Pensions

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records his Department holds on (a) the number of personnel (i) serving and (ii) serving less than 22 years in the (A) Army, (B) Royal Navy and (C) Royal Air Force between 1949 and 1975 and (b) the amount of the gratuity paid to ex-service personnel who did not serve 22 years during that period.

Derek Twigg: The information is not held in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for the policy on the payment of a pension to a former spouse of a retired member of the armed forces under 65 years. [138606]

Derek Twigg: Pension sharing was introduced by the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999. The legislation is the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions. Under the provisions of the Act, it is possible to share the value of a pension between both parties as part of a financial settlement on divorce. The Act stipulates pension credit benefit (the income from the share of the value of the member’s pension awarded to the former spouse) is not payable in an occupational pension scheme before ‘normal benefit age’. The legislation prescribes that normal benefit age under a scheme must be between 60 and 65.

The MOD applies this principle to the Armed Forces Pension Schemes and under a Pension Sharing Order the ex-spouse is generally treated in the same way as a member who leaves with a preserved pension. Prior to 6 April 2006, personnel in the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) who left before the immediate pension point, having completed at least two years reckonable service, had their benefits preserved to age 60. From April 2006, the preserved pension age was changed to 65 to take account of the impact of longevity and the age at which an ex-spouse could receive their pension share also rose to age 65.

For the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (AFPS 05) the preserved pension age and the age at which pension shares become payable has been 65 since the scheme’s introduction on 6 April 2005.

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