Select Committee on Social Security Sixth Report


The War Pensioners' Welfare Service

  14. The future of the War Pensioners' Welfare Service will be examined in the current Prior Options Review.[39] The War Pensioners' Welfare Service (WPWS) was set up in 1948 when it was deemed that the responsibilities of the Ministry of Pensions did not cease with the award of a war pension. Welfare Officers were appointed to offer practical help with problems experienced by war pensioners. Today the Service gives advice, information and assistance on any matter which concerns war pensioners and widows. It provides a professional and confidential visiting service and advice days and surgeries are held throughout the country.[40] The service provided is highly valued. SSAFA told the Committee that:

    "The War Pensioners' Welfare Service (WPWS) is an absolutely essential element of WPA, keeping in touch with the Pensioners and Widows and providing assistance and advice when required...We view the WPWS as one of the key elements of the service provided by the WPA and we believe that [the] partnership with the volunteers in the ex-Service community is an important ingredient."[41]

The Chief Executive agreed with this comment describing the WPWS as "an excellent service as far as I am concerned and we would want to continue to provide that excellent service."[42]

15. There are some concerns about the future of the War Pensioners' Welfare Service. The War Widows' Association was anxious to be assured that the Welfare Service would not be hindered in its work by financial constraints and that ways of improving the quality and scope of the service would be investigated.[43] We welcome the fact that the War Pensions Agency's memorandum identifies "the continued development of the Welfare Service" as a specific initiative in the context of "Putting Service First." Mr Burnham, the Acting Operations Director, emphasised the partnership between the Agency and the ex-service organisations in the Welfare Service: "Collectively we can deliver a much better service than we can individually."[44] Mr Burnham acknowledged that there may be lessons to be learned from the welfare services provided by the fire and police services.[45] The British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association expressed concerns that the Welfare Service might be absorbed by the work of voluntary organisations.[46] It is clear to us that the current review of the work of the War Pensions Agency should take into consideration the high value which is placed on the work of the Welfare Service. In addition, we recommend that the Agency should seek to draw on the experience of the fire and police services in the continued development of the War Pensioners' Welfare Service.

39   Q 66. Back

40   Ev. p.3, para.1.13, 1.12; see also para. 1.10. Back

41   Appendix 1. Back

42   Q 66. Back

43   Appendix 2, para. 3. Back

44   Q 69. Back

45   Q 70. Back

46   Appendix 4, para.6. Back

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Prepared 23 June 1999