One of the most important tasks of Legion Scotland is the work which has always been carried out in connection with claims for Pensions and Allowances for Ex-servicemen, their widows and dependents. The Legion took this over in 1921 and in the first 16 years 1.5 million cases had been dealt with by the Legion, over ten thousand cases had been represented and thousands of forms completed. *
It would be impossible to exaggerate the value of this work and all that has been accomplished over the 100 years. Recently the Head of Pensions & Advocacy Neil Robinson reflected on his time with Legion Scotland and the work the Department currently undertakes.
“In 2007, it was still as varied but seemed to work along a set of rules which since that time have been replaced by regulations and legislation since this a non-devolved issue and is subject to the control of the UK Government in London. Since then, it has become much more complexed and to our veterans more confusing. It is no longer simple to make a claim, and then go to an appeal if you were unsuccessful. This is mainly to the UK Government legislation that had been introduced back in April 2005 when the old War Disablement Scheme was replaced by the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. This for the first time allowed those serving to make a claim for injuries or conditions arising from service whilst they were in service however the UK Government then placed a 7-year rule for claiming which restricts what is allowed and opened a whole variety of different problems for those wishing to seek compensation.
Looking at some of the old journals and minutes of the Pension Committee and of the department I find it hard to believe that at one point during the end of the 20th Century there were 12 staff, whilst now there are two of us The demand for the service has not gone away, the need for the service has not vanished either, however, we can no long act as one organisation and must as we have done embrace the work by other charitable and paid organisations so that an overall arch of support can be given to veterans. This is the future.”
Currently with the two members of staff we perform approx. 240 appeals per annum with a resulting award of more than £1 million in 2019 and again in 2020. The Department adapted to COVID restrictions and continued their support for appellants throughout. More recently virtual conferencing has been used to ensure “face-to-face” hearings can still go ahead as well as teleconferencing.
Neil anticipates that “The next 100 years…will be as demanding as the last.” and he is probably not far wrong.
You can find out more about the service offered by Legion Scotland HQ in the Pensions section of the website https://www.legionscotland.org.uk/are-you-getting-the-right-pensions including a Claim Form if you would like to ask for support or know someone who does.
You can also keep an eye out for our April edition of Legion Scotland Today which will highlight the work of our Pensions service from the early years.
*The British Legion Scotland – An Historical Record, published 1937.