Armed Forces Community Welfare Pathway – Stakeholder Script

What is the Armed Forces Community Welfare Pathway and who is it for?

The Welfare Pathway seeks to make it easier for Service personnel, families and veterans (including Merchant Seafaring Veterans) to access the help and support available from the MOD, from statutory providers and from the Third Sector. It facilitates the delivery of services across all sectors by raising awareness of entitlement at all levels.

Why has it been introduced?

The Welfare Pathway has been introduced to support The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans (Service Personnel Command Paper). The Command Paper sets out the Government’s commitment on behalf of the nation to ensure that members of the Armed Forces Community are not placed at a disadvantage because of their service.

What can people expect to receive as a result of the new initiative?

Any member of the Armed Forces Community or those representing them will receive the help, advice and support they need from the people best placed to provide it either at a national level or locally.

One important feature of the Welfare Pathway is a new National Point of Contact telephone number which is intended to increase the chances of people getting the help they need - particularly the people who do not know where to turn for advice. The National Point of Contact will direct callers to the right people who can help them, that is the established In-Service and Ex-Service Helplines. The freephone number is 08000 223366.

What can they do if they encounter difficulty concerning statutory entitlements?

The Welfare Pathway aims to provide a better route for recourse for those experiencing difficulties concerning their statutory entitlement to services. In the pilot areas there will now be specific groups tasked with liaising with members of the Armed Forces Community and where necessary representing their cases to an Armed Forces Community Champion embedded within the Local Council system. The Champion has an understanding of the nation’s commitment towards members of the Armed Forces Community and will have a clear procedure to follow when seeking resolution.

Is the Welfare Pathway operating across the UK?

The initiative is being piloted by a number of local authorities. Hampshire County Council has been closely working with the Armed Forces Community to improve its services and its involvement as one of the first local authorities to join the Welfare Pathway pilot is a logical extension of these earlier initiatives. It is hoped to establish pilots across the whole of the UK and if these are successful the date for commencement of national roll out is 1 April 2011.

Who else is engaged in the delivery of the Welfare Pathway?

The Welfare Pathway is a national initiative which is delivered at local level through partnership with Local Authorities and Third Sector providers. All those who provide help and advice to the general public are being encouraged to ask “Are you part of the Armed Forces Community?” If they are the client, where appropriate, should be made aware of the National Point of Contact (unless they have already come via that route) and be advised about the statutory support available to them plus the extra help that may be available from the Third Sector. 

What other benefits will be delivered by the Welfare Pathway initiative?

It will also provide an objective means of evaluating the effectiveness of established policy. The participating pilot areas will be collecting anonymous data from callers to allow MOD to identify the problems most commonly facing members of the Armed Forces Community. This data will be used to inform and develop policy relating to statutory entitlements.

How will the existing agencies that provide help and advice be effected?

Existing local networks of support will not be replaced or fundamentally changed. Enquirers can still approach current sources of advice like Citizens Advice Bureaux, GPs, Government organisations and charities. The Welfare Pathway initiative aims to enhance the local liaison between these organisations in order to provide a more complimentary service.

Who is the Armed Forces Community Champion and what is their role?

In Hampshire, the Armed Forces Community Champion is Ian Parker of the Chief Executive’s department. His role is to:
Identify the specific needs of the Armed Forces Community in Hampshire.
Ensure that Armed Forces Community issues are considered when preparing the County Council’s overall priorities and plans.
Consider the impact on the Armed Forces Community of key Council decisions or polices.
Ensure services to the Armed Forces Community are robust and effective
Work with partners in the Hampshire Senate and Third Sector to improve the targeting and efficiency of services for the Armed Forces Community.

How will the local Veterans Group be constituted and what will its role be?

The constitution of the local Veterans Group is still being finalised as is its terms of reference. In general the group will provide advice on veterans issues to both the local authority and enquirers. It may well have a role in supporting those having difficulty in receiving their statutory entitlement.

What is the purpose of the local concordat?

The local concordat is being signed as a demonstration of commitment to the initiative and to capture, in general terms, what the stakeholders are trying to achieve.

How much will this initiative cost?

The cost to the Government, local authorities and the Third Sector will be minimal because the initiative builds on existing processes and relationships. The initiative is about working better in partnership to ensure that services are delivered more efficiently and effectively.

KEY MESSAGES

The key messages which underpin this campaign are:

There is a wide range of help and advice available to support the Armed Forces Community – that is Service Personnel, their families, widows and veterans. The Welfare Pathway attempts to ensure that those who don’t know where to begin can access help via a freephone National Point of Contact: 08000 223366.

The Welfare Pathway initiative will encourage all service providers to ask the key question “Are you part of the Armed Forces Community?” An affirmative answer will not only provide access to the statutory support available to them but will also unlock the extra help that may be available from the Third Sector. 

We are delighted that Hampshire County Council has become the second Local Authority signed up to working with the MOD, other public and Third Sector organisations to roll out the Welfare Pathway initiative in their area. We are working closely with a number of other Local Authorities to establish similar pilot programmes across the UK.
The intended date for commencement of national roll out is 1 April 2011.