Select Committee on Social Security Sixth Report


WAR PENSIONS AGENCY BUSINESS PLAN 1999-2000

Provision of information

  12. The War Widows' Association of Great Britain told the Committee that the clarity of information provided by the War Pensions Agency needs to be improved. The Association told us that many widows are unaware of their entitlement—for example where a war widow has remarried and been widowed again, or divorced. Others believe that they have an entitlement to a War Pension upon the death of their husband when they do not.[35] It is very important that the Agency should listen to the concerns expressed by the War Widows' Association and the other ex-service organisations which have a clear expertise in this area. We are encouraged by the fact that one of the Agency's key priorities for 1999/2000 is "to further develop our constructive partnerships with ex-service organisations to ensure that war pensioners and war widows receive high quality welfare advice and support."[36]

13. We are concerned that the Agency's publicity work should not be limited to the ex-service organisations. Ensuring a high level of take-up of War Pensions among those eligible is not contained in any of the Agency's targets for the coming year. We were told that potential claimants are notified of the War Pensions scheme in a number of ways: for example, service personnel are told about War Pensions when they leave the service; the War Pensioners' Welfare Service is proactive in managing exhibitions and supporting other organisations who have exhibitions; and the Agency usually has a stand at the Royal British Legion conference.[37] The Agency's supplementary memorandum gives details of the ongoing annual programme of publicity activity, aimed at providing information about the Agency and its business and giving advice about how to claim a war pension.[38] The Agency's publicity work may be too focussed on ex-service organisations. It is likely that many potential claimants have no contact whatsoever with ex-service organisations. Furthermore, exclusively concentrating on ex-service organisations is unlikely to reach those civilians entitled to compensation for injuries received during World War Two. We are concerned at the lack of public awareness of war pensions and are surprised that increasing public awareness is not a high priority for the Agency. We recommend that the issue of take-up should be addressed. We recommend that, as a first step, details of how to claim a war pension should be included in the notification of state pension entitlement sent by the Department to people approaching retirement age.


35   Appendix 2, para. 4 & 5. Back

36   Ev. p.1. Back

37   Q 27. Back

38   Ev. p.43, para. 6.1-6.4. Back


 
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Prepared 23 June 1999