5 Improving co-ordination, communication
76. Responsibility for support for Armed Forces
veterans is fragmented, with the MoD, Welsh Government, local
authorities, NHS authorities and charities each playing a role.
Our inquiry identified several areas where improved co-ordination,
communication or clarity was necessary. We cover each of these
in turn below.
Ministry of Defence: structure
77. The Welsh Government Minister raised concerns
that the MoD sometimes did not provide adequate warning about
decisions which would have an impact on the future provision and
delivery of veterans' services in Wales. He cited the MoD's recent
announcement on the restructuring of the Armed Forces as an example.
The Scottish Government Minister raised similar concerns.
The MoD Minister stated that he hoped to address these concerns
in meetings with the Scottish and Welsh Ministers and to "build
some kind of rapport" with them.
78. Some witnesses criticised the location of
the ministerial responsibility for veterans within the MoD. SSAFA
stated that it was contradictory for the MoD, with its aim of
delivering military capability and the provider of services to
its direct employees, to be responsible for those it had ceased
to employ. He argued
that the role of Veterans Minister should sit in the Home Office
or the Cabinet Office,
and Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd MP agreed that this would give the position
a "cross-cutting remit across all vital Departments".
Hazel Hunt believed the MoD had a "lack of empathy with the
79. In September 2012, during the course of our
inquiry, the UK Government appointed Lord Ashcroft as Special
Representative for Veterans Transition. He will report directly
to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence.
The purpose of the role is to "champion the cause of servicemen
and women making the transition to civilian life, liaising with
Armed Forces charities, industry and across departmental boundaries
to support access to employment and the package available for
those transitioning into civilian life".
80. We are concerned that the
MoD has sometimes failed to communicate to the Welsh Government
important decisions that have a direct bearing on the ability
of the Welsh Government to provide services to veterans. We trust
that the appointment of a new Minister for Defence Personnel,
Welfare and Veterans in the MoD gives the opportunity for new
relationships to be forged and for communication to improve.
81. We welcome the appointment
of a Special Representative for Veterans Transition, and look
forward to receiving information on his role and his objectives.
Clarification will be required on the Special Representative's
relationship with the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare
Welsh Government co-ordination
82. Witnesses commented that there were concerns
about the responsibility for the provision of services for veterans
between the MoD, NHS, Welsh Government, local authorities and
the charitable sector.
The Royal College of Nursing said that the levels of responsibility
could sometimes be "complex" which could contribute
to "disputes about which agency should be responsible for
providing services to veterans".
The British Medical Association stated that co-ordination, planning,
monitoring and provision of veterans' services were often left
to the charitable sector.
83. In 2010, the Welsh Government established
the "Expert Group on the needs of the Armed Forces Community
in Wales". The purpose of the Expert Group is to advise on
how public services can best meet the Armed Forces community's
needs. It is chaired by the Welsh Government Minister responsible
for veterans, and includes representatives from the Armed Forces
and the charitable sector, and has met four times since its establishment
in May 2010. The
Welsh Government Minister praised the Group's impact in co-ordinating
services for veterans at a strategic level:
They advise us of any gaps in the service, and we
try to react very quickly on the information that we receive as
a Government, as do the partners in local government, in terms
of public service delivery.
84. The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the
improved co-ordination at strategic level but wanted better co-ordination
at the local level, particularly between the seven NHS local health
boards and the 22 local authorities.
85. We welcome the Welsh Government's
formation of an Expert Group to advise on how best to meet the
needs of the Armed Forces Community. The Group may benefit from
permanent local authority or NHS representation.
86. Community Covenants are a voluntary statement
of mutual support between a local community and its local Armed
Forces Community, and are an MoD initiative. They are intended
to complement, at local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, which
outlines the moral obligation between the nation, the Government
and the Armed Forces. The aim of the Community Covenant is to
encourage local communities to support the Armed Forces Community
in their area and promote understanding and awareness amongst
the public of issues affecting the community.
87. Once a Community Covenant has been signed,
local authorities can access an MoD funding pool via a grant scheme.
Up to £30 million over four financial years has been set
aside to help communities across the UK undertake projects that
promote greater understanding between the military and civilian
populations. The MoD's website states that £32,888 has been
provided for the Little Rascals Crche in the Vale of Glamorgan
to fund a new play area where service children and children from
the local community can play together. No other examples of funding
given to Welsh projects are listed.
88. The Welsh Local Government Association hoped
that the development and adoption of Community Covenants would
help to ensure that local authorities in Wales addressed veterans'
issues within their policy-making.As
of the beginning of February 2013, ten local authorities in Wales
had signed Community Covenants: Carmarthenshire; Ceredigion; Isle
of Anglesey; Vale of Glamorgan; Powys County Council; Newport
City Council; Pembrokeshire; Monmouthshire; Rhondda Cynon Taf;
and Swansea. Councillor Brendan Toomey of the Welsh Local Government
Association (WLGA) admitted that the process had slowed down after
an initial strong engagement, but that the WLGA would continue
to press local authorities to adopt Community Covenants.
The MoD Minister told us that he would be writing to local authorities
in England and Wales to encourage them to sign up to a Community
89. We urge the Welsh Government
to encourage all those local authorities in Wales that have not
yet done so, to review their provision for veterans and plan to
sign up and support Community Covenants, in partnership with other
relevant local organisations such as health boards and housing
associations. We are aware that a number of local authorities
have already launched or plan to launch Community Covenant Schemes.
Some of these schemes may involve the setting up of the equivalent
of a one-stop shop.
90. To avoid duplication, we
recommend that the Welsh Government take into account the support
launched or planned by local authorities as part of their Community
Covenants, should the Welsh Government decide to proceed with
a network of one-stop shops across Wales for veterans.
The Welsh Government and
the Welsh Local Government Association should actively educate
local authorities about their obligations under the Covenant.
89 Q 382 Back
Q 413 Back
Q 193 Back
Q 193 Back
Q 468 Back
Q 313 Back
Ev 95; Ev 106 Back
Ev 95 Back
Ev 106 Back
Charities represented on the body include the Royal British Legion
and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. Back
Q 359 Back
Q 71 Back
Ev 128 Back
Q 403 Back
Q 414 Back