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21 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Simon Ellis

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme: the Government’s response

Written by Hannah Baker, Associate in the Military team.

Back in August 2023, we looked at the most recent Quinquennial Review (QQR) of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

Every 5 years, the AFCS is reviewed to make sure that it is still delivering its overall aim: to ensure that no personnel are disadvantaged as a result of their service. The 2022/2023 QQR was based on the experiences of stakeholders, caseworkers, charities, and claimants and made a total of 67 recommendations to ensure that the scheme remains fit for purpose and continues to deliver its primary aims.

Among some of the recommendations were that:

  • time-limits for making a claim should be abolished;
  • claimants with mental disorders should be able to rely on a report from their treating physician, regardless of whether they are a Consultant level or not;
  • lump sum tariff payments should be automatically uprated to reflect inflation and the cost of living at the time of the award;
  • the current system to review an award (e.g. in the case of deterioration) should be simplified;
  • GIP payments should be assessed separately and based on the overall impact of the claimant’s injury;
  • the Synopses of Causation should be regularly updated to ensure they reflect advances in medicine; and
  • interim awards should be reviewed after 12 months (instead of 24), with a final decision to be made within a maximum of 24 months.

The Government has now had time to consider the recommendations made and published its full response in March.

Unfortunately, the more noteworthy recommendations have not been implemented for various reasons including budget constraints, logistical challenges and policy considerations. However, there are some recommendations that have been taken into account.

The Government agreed that it would be timely to review the current lump sum awards and it intends to carry out a review in 2024/2025. The Government will also consider a process whereby compensation tariffs are routinely considered in future years.

Improvements will also be made to the claims process to streamline and simply the process, ensuring personnel can access support more efficiently. The Government intends to publish explanatory documents and information leaflets to explain how certain issues are decided, including the question of attributability, the methods used to match evidence to descriptors and the parameters of the medical and legal policy surrounding the scheme. Further, ‘complex’ claims will be identified from the outset and the process for these claims will be modified accordingly to ensure the process is more transparent for the claimant.

Finally, further training for caseworkers will be implanted. The response indicates that some of this training is already underway and the Government hopes that, by empowering caseworkers with the knowledge and resources they need, they can be confident in their decision making.

It is hoped that the implemented recommendations will allow for a more positive experience for the claimants and their families.

While it may be unsurprising, it is still disappointing to see that the Government has not gone further in adopting more of the recommendations. For example, the Government has rejected the recommendation to abolish time limits for claims. Additionally, the response stops short of confirming that the requirement for a diagnosis of a mental injury from a Consultant-level psychiatrist or psychologist will be scrapped. The response indicates that this is currently being explored by the IMEG in their 7th report, due in 2024, and that the requirement will be considered again once the 7th report has been published. The QQR strives to hold the scheme to account and ensure that is fair, understandable, and transparent. It does feel that an opportunity has perhaps been missed to fundamentally improve both the scheme and the experiences of claimants when trying to access the compensation they deserve.

That said, we welcome any improvements to the scheme that will allow for a better experience for service personnel, veterans and their families. You can read the Government’s full response to the 2022/2023 QQR.

We represent claimants in both AFCS and War Pension Scheme claims. Claimants are able to submit their own claim for free, or in some cases seek assistance from a charity organisation. However, many claimants still chose to instruct us to represent them due to the complexity of the schemes and our experience in representing veterans and serving personnel.

For further information, please visit our Military legal services page or use the contact details below.

Key contact

Simon Ellis


Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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