1.1 Scotland has an Armed Forces population of just over 12,000 personnel. They are based in 15 local authority areas, with the majority in Argyll and Bute, Moray, Fife and the City of Edinburgh. No records are available on the number of family members and dependants but we estimate they may total around a further 20,000. The number of ex-service men or women in Scotland is estimated by Veterans Scotland to total around 400,000.
1.2 These current and ex-service personnel contribute significantly to Scottish society. They are an integral part of our communities, contribute to the Scottish economy and make use of public services like any other community. What sets them apart, however, is the demands we impose on them in the course of their duty, and the hardship and difficulties this can place on their families.
1.3 Scottish Ministers firmly believe that all forms of disadvantage faced by our Service personnel, their families and the veterans community must be removed.
1.4 In July 2008 the Scottish Government published a paper entitled Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment1 which set ou t the Scottish Government's commitment to Armed Forces' personnel, their families and to veterans by tackling the disadvantages they face. The paper set out Scottish Government's intended action within its devolved responsibilities such as health, housing, transport, education, employment and employability.
1.5 This paper reports on the significant progress made since then to achieve the commitments set out in that paper.
1.6 If you would like any further information, or to comment on, any aspect of Scottish Government work in this area, please contact:Robert MacKay
Armed Forces and Veterans' Issues Team
Social Inclusion Division
Area 2-F, Victoria Quay
EDINBURGH, EH6 6QQ
Tel: 0131 244 3649
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
2.1 It is not acceptable to disadvantage Service personnel, their families and veterans just because it can be difficult to reconcile life in the military with the way in which public services and other forms of support are delivered to the rest of society. Our Armed Forces have every right to expect high quality healthcare, housing, education, transport services, support for their families and access to career opportunities which other citizens take for granted.
2.2 It is vital that public and other delivery services and bodies work together to develop and deliver support to the Armed Forces and Veterans' community in an easily accessible and coherent way. This will ensure that services are targeted at those who need them most and that they are delivered in the most effective manner.
2.3 This report details the significant progress made in meeting the commitments set out in the July 2008 publication Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment. Examples of the progress made include:
- Healthcare: The prosthetic limb project in NHS Lothian has been set up: training on fitting and maintenance of "state of the art" prosthetics is being rolled out across Scotland;
- Healthcare: The launch of a one-stop-shop for veterans living in Lothian providing expert advice, signposting and support to veterans (Veterans First Point);
- Housing: Help for all eligible Armed Forces members and veterans to join the property ladder as first time buyers (through priority access to shared-equity schemes);
- Housing: Abolishing means testing for disabled homeowners who need adaptations;
- Travel: Free Bus Travel for Service personnel and veterans seriously injured on duty (from 2011);
- Reservists: The endorsement of the Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers ( SaBRE) statement of Employer Support by Scottish Ministers and the issue of guidance on the employment of Reservists in the NHS in Scotland.
2.4 Further details on these achievements and the other commitments are set out in the remainder of this report.
3.1 The health and wellbeing of all of Scotland's people is a priority for the Scottish Government. However, there are unique and diverse health needs for both serving personnel and those leaving, or who have left, the Armed Forces.
3.2 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out a series of measures to improve the healthcare for Armed Forces' personnel and their families stationed in Scotland and for Scotland's veterans' community. It set out both new commitments and measures already in place relating to:
- Dental Provision;
- Meeting the health needs of veterans; and
- Ensuring that Service mobility does not adversely impact on waiting time for NHS treatment.
3.3 A summary of progress with each of these is set out below, including an update on those measures already in place in July 2008.
Summary - Healthcare
(a) Dental Provision
Being met through measures being taken to improve dental access across Scotland.
(b) Health needs of Veterans
(i) Increase level of health service awareness of Forces / Veterans requirements
Leaflet Have You Served Your Country?: Taking Care of Veterans published in May 2008.
Guidance Life Force on how to provide support to veterans with mental health problems published by the Scottish Association for Mental Health in May 2008.
Each NHS Board has nominated an individual to monitor treatment of veterans - progress meeting in December 2009.
Options (including around eHealth) are being explored.
(ii) Priority Treatment
All veterans receive priority access for any conditions likely to be related to their service (from February 2008). Each NHS Board has nominated an individual to monitor treatment of veterans - progress meeting in December 2009.
(iii) Mental Health
Veterans First Point - a "one-stop shop" for veterans has been operational since March 2009. First Point is part of the pilot for the delivery of evidence based mental health services to Veterans.
Arrangements for access to specialist mental health services for veterans resident in Scotland has also been extended and simplified (provided by Combat Stress at Hollybush House in Ayr).
(iv) Prosthetic Limb Provision
Prosthetic Limb project started at NHS Lothian Rehabilitation Centre - training on fitting and maintaining "state of the art" prosthetics being rolled out across Scotland.
(c ) NHS Waiting List - Retention of Place
Circular to NHS Boards issued in January 2009 confirming that Service personnel and their families who move within Scotland or across the UK will have their previous waiting time taken into account.
(a) Dental Provision
3.4 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment stated:
- The Scottish Government will support proposals to focus an increase in dental services provision in areas with increased Forces populations, including the increased use of mobile dental equipment etc.
3.5 This commitment was in addition to measures which were already in place: to undertake an ambitious programme of capital building across Scotland; to improve access to dental health services; the increased provision by NHS Fife to cope with the needs of children of Services personnel based at RAF Leuchars; the Scottish Dental Access Initiative and the opening of the Aberdeen Dental School.
Progress on Dental Provision
3.6 Measures have been taken to improve services, and access to them, and to introduce new public health programmes from which Service personnel and their families will benefit. As part of an ongoing programme of work, dental access issues are being addressed by
- Providing incentives for dental practitioners to come and work in Scotland;
- Helping existing practitioners to extend their practices;
- Providing students with incentives to stay in Scotland when they qualify through the bursary scheme;
- Providing additional training places for dental therapists.
3.7 In the three years to March 2009, the number of dentists in Health Board areas in Scotland has increased by almost 20%. The percentage of the Scottish population registered with an NHS General Dental Service dentist is 80.1% for children and 61.3% for adults at 31st March 2009.
3.8 "Childsmile" (preventative) programmes are also being rolled out using mobile dental facilities across Scotland.
(b) Meeting Veterans' Health Needs
3.9 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment stated:
- The Scottish Government will support proposals to increase the level of health service awareness of Forces/veterans' requirements.
3.10 This commitment was in addition to measures which were already in place in July 2008
- from 29 February 2008 to extend the Priority Treatment Scheme to ensure that all veterans, including Reservists, who have a need for treatment as a consequence of their Service are entitled to priority treatment within the NHS based on clinical need;
- to develop a pilot project, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence ( MoD), NHS Lothian and veterans' organisations including Combat Stress, to provide services to veterans who experience mental ill-health and ensuring that lessons learned are applied across all NHS Boards in Scotland; and,
- to ensure that injured veterans have access to a standard of "state of the art" prosthetic limbs through NHSScotland equal to that provided by the Defence Medical Services.
Progress on meeting veterans' health needs
3.11 In May 2008 the Scottish Association for Mental Health ( SAMH) published guidance ( Life Force) on how to provide support to veterans with mental health problems. Life Force is written for community based support agencies (including voluntary sector, services provided by NHS Boards and local authorities) and has been distributed to GP Practices and Primary Care services, to enhance the information and assessment processes for primary care professionals about veterans' specific health and community needs. The guide provides practical advice, and it challenges assumptions and generalisations which can often adversely affect veterans seeking support.
3.12 Work is underway to explore ways in which eHealth (and IT) might contribute to improving the healthcare for Armed Forces' personnel, their families and the veteran community. Measures being considered include: the possible flagging of veterans' health records and whether it might be possible for GP records, or a summary of that record, to follow Armed Forces' personnel into Service and return to their GP on discharge.
(ii) Priority Treatment
3.13 On 13 February 2008 the Scottish Government issued a circular to all NHS Boards explaining that all veterans should receive priority access to NHS primary, secondary and tertiary care for any conditions likely to be related to their service. This includes those not in receipt of a war pension, and those who have served as reservists, and is subject to individual clinical needs.
3.14 Each Heath Board has designated a senior executive with leave responsibility to ensure the implementation of the guidance, and address any issues related to it.
3.15 In order to raise awareness of these initiatives amongst veterans, the Scottish Government produced a leaflet in collaboration with veterans' associations in Scotland, NHS stakeholders and Citizens Advice Scotland. This was distributed to veterans, GPs, Citizens Advice Bureaux and Health Boards. The information leaflet called Have You Served Your Country?: Taking Care of Veterans was launched in May 2008.
(iii) Mental Health
3.16 The Scottish Government has been working with the MoD, Veterans Agencies and other UK Health Departments to develop a new community based model for the delivery of evidence based mental health services to veterans across the UK. Pilot schemes have been established in six locations across Great Britain. In Scotland, in partnership with NHS Lothian and other veterans interests, the Scottish Government is piloting "Veterans First Point", a community based service in central Edinburgh.
3.17 Total funding for the Pilot to 2011 is £930,000 with the Scottish Government providing £640,000; NHS Lothian £220,000 and the MoD £70,000 over the period.
3.18 The pilot has been operational since March 2009 and has been widely welcomed as a positive step. The pilot provides a "one stop shop" for assistance to veterans and their families no matter what that need might be. Operating on a "drop-in" basis, the support and advice on offer is much broader than mental health needs. It includes wider health, social, employment and educational advice, with signposting where appropriate to other relevant agencies for further help and support.
3.19 Understanding the "whole person" and the problems they face is a key aspect of the service. The circumstances in which a veteran is living, for example the effectiveness of housing, welfare, and social supports is crucial. This recognised that some veterans may feel initially more comfortable talking about and seeking help for these issues through Veterans First Point, rather than going direct to other public services.
3.20 The pilot will be fully evaluated by the Universities of Sheffield and Edinburgh to ensure learning from the First Point service is captured. The learning outcomes will inform the further development of community based services and support for veterans across Scotland.
3.21 Arrangements for access to specialist mental health services for veterans resident in Scotland has also been extended and simplified. These services will be provided by Combat Stress at Hollybush House in Ayr. Resources of £1.2 million have been made available each year to this organisation until 2011, through arrangements with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, to significantly improve access to specialist assessment treatment, education, advice and welfare support for veterans. This now means that veterans assessed as needing this kind of specialist support will be able to access treatment irrespective of their war pension status. Multi-disciplinary services will be tailored to individual needs, including the allocation of a key worker for each veteran to act as a conduit to assessment, admission and follow up and to provide advice and signposting as required. Referrals to the service will be made through all the normal NHS and social services routes, and referrals from Service charities and self referrals are also welcome.
3.22 A further £560,000 is also being made available to Combat Stress over the period 2008-11 to support the delivery of improved community outreach and welfare services across Scotland. Two multi-disciplinary regional teams will help deliver services that respond to the mental health needs of veterans, their families and carers by improving access to home based care, screening and assessment, to enable a more integrated approach to the delivery of care and support. An important aspect of the team's role will be to seek to enhance the further understanding of NHS professionals who encounter veterans in their communities and to build and sustain joint working across the ex-services and healthcare communities.
3.23 NHSScotland remains responsible for the health, and mental health, care of veterans resident in Scotland. These significant developments will combine with the Scottish Government's wider mental health programme which will also directly benefit veterans and their families. The mental health programme has focussed recently on key areas including delivering modern mental health legislation which has the principles of equal access to care, participation, respect reciprocity and equality at its heart. NHSScotland is improving mental health and well-being through the recently published Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland action plan which aims to bring about a step change in how we look after our own and others' mental health.
3.24 The Scottish Government also has in place a national delivery plan with specific targets and commitments focussing on improving mental health services, treatments, prevention and recovery. This includes a wide ranging programme of activities covering the full spectrum of mental health problems, including those commonly experienced by veterans. For example, NHSScotland is responding better to depression and anxiety including increasing access to psychological therapies and counselling. NHSScotland is targeting hospital readmission rates to avoid inappropriate hospital admissions and better care for people in the community. Developing and improving care pathways; responding better to crisis; and attention to physical health in recognition of the benefits this can have to help prevent mental illness and help recovery are a few examples which will be particularly relevant to veterans.
3.25 NHSScotland is working with all agencies and sectors to deliver on this ambitious programme to improve care, services and support for all those who have a mental health problem. This will have a particular impact on improving the services for, and the quality of life of, veterans and their families living in Scotland.
(iv) Prosthetic Limb Provision
3.26 A £300,000 prosthetic limb project has been started at NHS Lothian Rehabilitation Centre. Training on fitting and maintenance of "state of the art" prosthetics is being rolled out in Scotland with the co-operation of the five rehabilitation centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. Interested professional nominees from each Centre will be champions for this project. The intention is to ensure that veterans who lose limbs whilst on active service receive a similar standard of "state of the art" prosthetics from NHSScotland to that provided by the MoD Defence Medical Services.
3.27 More generally, the Scottish Government is examining how the cost of travelling to Edinburgh for treatment is to be met. The Scottish Government will examine the model used for the Assisted Travel Scheme and the possibility of delivering the treatment in other areas rather than just Edinburgh.
(c) NHS Waiting List - Retention of Place
3.28 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out the commitment to:
- Ensure Service mobility does not impact on the time an individual has to wait on NHS treatment.
Progress on NHS Waiting List - Retention of Place
3.29 On 22 January 2009 the Scottish Government issued a circular CEL 3 (2009) to NHS Boards confirming that Service personnel and their families who move between areas will retain their relative point on the pathway of care within the national waiting time targets. Similarly, when patients move across the UK, previous waiting time will be taken into account with the expectation that treatment will be within national waiting time standards.
3.30 Each NHS Board has designated a senior member of staff with local responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the guidance and addressing any barriers. A named contact in each Board has been provided to the MoD to ensure timely and effective communications. Future updates of waiting time guidance will include an explanation of the actions required. Requirements will be reinforced at regular waiting time review meetings. A formal review of the effectiveness of arrangements will take place and we will produce a summary report covering the first year of implementation.
4.1 Many Service personnel can face particular difficulty in finding a home on discharge. They may not have enough money for mortgages, require special adaptations to their homes or have no connection to the area where they want to live. It is important that housing providers understand the special circumstances of Service personnel and can work with them positively. Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out measures to make it easier for Forces personnel and veterans to find a home and avoid problems or even homelessness.
4.2 This is in addition to measures which were already in place in July 2008 on affordable housing. This includes support for people with disabilities, purchasing surplus MoD land or properties and to address supply problems.
4.3 A summary of progress is set out below.
Summary - Housing
(a) Avoiding Homelessness
Advice to Scottish Local Authorities setting out that they should not insist on a possession order was issued in June 2009.
Legislation on homelessness to ensure that employment / residence connected to the Armed Forces constitute a local connection will be taken forward as part of the 2010 Housing Bill.
(b) Affordable Housing
(i) Shared Equity Schemes
All eligible members of the Armed Forces and veterans who have left within 12 months have priority access to shared equity schemes (part of Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers ( LIFT)).
(ii) Surplus MOD Property
Circular issued in February 2009 setting out that local authorities should work with the Armed Forces establishments in their area to find suitable accommodation and highlighting opportunities that may exist within MoD vacant property.
Discussions taking place with MoD around circulating information on surplus MoD land and property within Scotland, before it goes on the open market.
(iii) Adapted Social Housing
Circular issued in February 2009 reminded all social landlords of the existing high priority that seriously injured personnel should receive.
For veterans who have been seriously injured, the 'Registered Social Landlord' (local authority or housing association) managing the shared equity schemes can offer additional flexibility to make it easier for people to purchase a bigger property than they would normally be entitled to, or by reducing the minimum stake they need to purchase, ensuring that an individual property meets their requirements.
The needs of veterans and their families are being considered as part of the Scottish Government's review of social housing allocations policy (guidance due in early 2010).
(iv) Disabled Homeowners
Regulations to abolish means testing for disabled homeowners who need adaptations came into force on 1 April 2009.
(a) Avoiding homelessness
4.4 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment stated:
- The Scottish Government will investigate the prevalence of local authorities not accepting Certificates of Cessation for Service personnel giving up Service accommodation as demonstrating impending homelessness and, if necessary, issue further guidance on the issue
4.5 This commitment is in addition to measures already in place to ensure that, under Scottish homelessness legislation, an applicant for housing who is vulnerable because they have left the Armed Forces is treated as a priority need for accommodation.
Progress on avoiding homelessness
4.6 Advice to Scottish local authorities explaining that they should not insist on a possession order when a Certificate of Cessation has been issued is contained in guidance from the Scottish Government - guidance on housing options for ex-Service personnel and guidance on preventing homelessness more generally which were issued in June 2009.
4.7 Scottish Government officials met the MoD to explore using MoD vacant property in August 2008. Following these discussions, the revised Housing Circular - Housing for People Leaving the Armed Forces, was issued in February 2009. It set out that local authorities should work with Armed Forces establishments in their area to support ex-Service personnel find suitable accommodation. It also highlights that opportunities may exist to use MoD vacant property as temporary accommodation for homeless ex-Service personnel. It also made clear that homeless ex-Service personnel in this type of temporary accommodation should not be disadvantaged in seeking permanent or alternative temporary accommodation, or assumed to be suitably housed. Further discussions with the MoD will be held over the coming year.
4.8 The Scottish Government has consulted on possible legislative amendments so that employment/residence connected to the Armed Forces constitutes a local connection within homelessness legislation. Scottish Ministers have approved the proposal of an amendment to s27 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 to enable employment or residence connected to the Armed Forces to establish a "local connection". This will be part of the Housing Bill to be introduced in 2010.
4.9 Scottish Ministers have raised this issue with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) and agreement has been agreed to communicate on this issue with core local authorities (ie those with a significant base in their areas).
4.10 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out the measures which have been taken to give Forces personnel priority access to the Low-Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers ( LIFT) shared equity schemes and, those which are being pursued in relation to surplus land and properties.
4.11 The MoD Command Paper The Nation's Commitment: Cross-Government Support To Our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans stated that Service Leavers may be offered the opportunity to occupy vacant MoD property as an interim measure.
Progress on Affordable Housing
(i) Shared Equity Schemes
4.12 As well as supporting those wishing to rent, the Scottish Government has been working to help support those members of the Armed Forces who wish to buy their own home. Since the MoD Command Paper was published, all eligible members of the Armed Forces and also veterans who have left the forces within the past year have had priority access to our shared equity schemes, which form part of the Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers ( LIFT). In addition, on 31 March 2009 the Open Market Shared Equity pilot across Scotland was temporarily expanded and the budget for the scheme this year substantially increased to £60 million.
4.13 The take-up of LIFT by the Armed Forces is being monitored and the Scottish Government is working with the MoD and Registered Social Landlords to ensure that service personnel who may want to buy a home are aware of it.
4.14 The Scottish Government will continue to support injured Service personnel and other disabled buyers to help ensure Scottish Government schemes meet their particular needs.
(ii) Surplus MoD Property
4.15 Discussions are also ongoing with the MoD to agree how it could make the Scottish Government aware of any surplus land and property within Scotland prior to it being offered on the open market for sale.
(iii) Adapted Social Housing
4.16 Seriously injured Service personnel can face delays in obtaining suitable adapted social housing. In response to this, Scottish Ministers made a commitment to remind social landlords of the existing high priority that seriously injured personnel in Scotland receive for adapted social housing and to repeat this in future allocations guidance.
4.17 These commitments were in addition to measures which were already in place to ensure that shared equity schemes are fully accessible to people with disabilities, including injured Service personnel and veterans.
Progress on adapted social housing
4.18 In response to these commitments the Scottish Government issued a revised circular, HAR1/2009 : Housing for People Leaving the Armed Forces, to all social landlords (local authorities and Registered Social Landlords) in Scotland on 23 February 2009. Along with reminding landlords of the existing high priority that seriously injured personnel should receive, the circular offered guidance to social landlords on meeting the housing needs of ex-Service personnel and their families and provided information about other available housing options and support.
4.19 More broadly, the needs of ex-Service personnel and their families have also been considered as part of the Scottish Government's review of social housing allocations policy. Scottish Government officials met with Veterans Scotland in April 2009 to discuss issues for the veterans' community. Following this meeting and subsequent recommendations from the Allocations Policy Review Advisory Group, the Scottish Government has made a commitment to strengthen the guidance on general housing allocations and to develop a national housing options advice publication for those in the Armed Forces and veterans. These will support social landlords in understanding and developing appropriate responses to meet the housing needs of those leaving the Armed Forces and the wider veterans' community, as well as providing ex-Service personnel with the information and advice they need to help them find suitable accommodation in Scotland, whatever their circumstances. We will continue to engage with the MoD and the veterans' community in developing the guide to social housing allocations and the national leaflet. The Scottish Government expects to publish this guidance and advice in early 2010.
(iv) Disabled Homeowners
4.20 Regulations to abolish means testing for disabled homeowners who need adaptations came into force on 1 April 2009. As a result, no income or payments (eg Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, War Pensions Scheme) are taken into account in applications for grant funding from Scottish local authorities. The Scottish Government will continue to support injured service personnel and other buyers with disabilities by ensuring Scottish Government schemes meet their housing needs.
5.1 Many people in Scotland make use of the Blue Badge scheme and benefit from free public transport. This will include many veterans. However, many younger veterans are excluded from these arrangements, especially those severely injured while on duty. These injured personnel have made a huge sacrifice and while the injuries they have sustained are, and can be, treated with the highest quality healthcare, their mobility may be affected long term, or permanently.
5.2 To this end, Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out measures to extend the Blue Badge parking scheme. This commitment was in addition to measures which were already in place in July 2008 around extending the provision of concessionary bus travel to injured veterans as part of the then forthcoming review of the Scotland wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People.
5.3 A summary of progress is set out below.
Summary - Transport
(a) Extension of "Blue Badge" scheme
Ongoing. Scottish Government is part of the review led by UK Department for Transport.
(b) Extension of "Concessionary Travel" scheme
Commitment published in May 2009 to extend the eligibility criteria from 1 April 2011 to include HM Service Personnel and veterans under the age of 60 who were seriously injured in service and are resident in Scotland.
(a) Blue Badge
5.4 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment sets out that the Scottish Government would:
- Commit to improving the quality of life for injured veterans by extending the Blue Badge parking concession scheme to ensure that severely disabled veterans receive automatic entitlement to a Blue Badge without further assessment.
Progress on Blue Badge
5.5 Scottish Government officials are part of the current review to implement changes to the Blue Badge parking concession scheme led by the Department for Transport. Participation will help inform any revisions to the scheme in Scotland. In addition, in order to consider how best to take such revisions forward, the Scottish Government has established a Blue Badge Reform Working Group, consisting of representatives from local authorities, Occupational Therapy, NHSScotland, and the British Parking Association. The group has met twice so far, and is currently considering the reforms being implemented in England, and suggested in Wales, in order to make sure that any changes made here are comparable with those made elsewhere in the UK.
(a) Concessionary Fares
5.6 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out the proposal made by the Scottish Government that:-
- provision of concessionary bus travel would be extended to injured veterans as part of a review of the Scotland wide Free Bus Travel scheme for Older and Disabled People.
Progress on Concessionary Fares
5.7 The report from the review of the Scottish Wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People was published on 26 May 2009. Included among the nine recommendations was a commitment to change the eligibility criteria from 1 April 2011 to include HM Service personnel and veterans under the age of 60 who were seriously injured in service and are resident in Scotland. Officials from the Scottish Government are currently liaising with colleagues in the MoD and the Department for Transport to determine the specific eligibility criteria.
6.1 The children of serving personnel are sometimes faced with upheaval and a disruption to their education because one or both their parents are in the Armed Forces. This can place these children at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers. Special arrangements may be needed so that the disruption to their education is minimised as they move from place to place.
6.2 In addition, many Service personnel and leavers are interested in new education and training opportunities to help them augment their existing skills and become better placed to compete in the employment market when they leave Service.
6.3 To this end, Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out measures to improve the education for children of Armed Forces, as well as opportunities for Services personnel and their spouses to continue their further, higher and vocational education.
6.4 A summary of progress is set out below.
Summary - Education
(a) the Children of Forces' families
The Scottish Government is working closely with the Children's Education Advisory Service (the tri-service organisation funded by the MoD to provide information and support to Service families and eligible MoD civilians) on all aspects of the education of their children in the UK and overseas.
In Scotland, local authorities are required to meet the additional support needs of any child for whose education they are responsible - including those which might impact on children of Service families, such as interrupted learning and dealing with bereavement.
(b) Service Leavers
Most Scottish based Service leavers will be eligible for existing fee waiver support.
(c ) Basic Skills training for Service personnel and their families
Adult Literacies Partnerships are working with the armed forces in Scotland on reading, writing and numeracy skills.
(a) Educating the children of Forces' families
6.5 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out that the Scottish Government would continue to:
- Work with its partners to ensure a high level of schooling continuity for the children of Forces' families and ensure that this applies to children with Additional Support Needs.
- Cooperate with the MoD and the other Devolved Administrations to identify where children of Service families may be under-achieving; reasons why; and plan any action required.
Progress on educating the children of Forces' families
6.6 In Scotland local authorities are required to meet the additional support needs of any child for whose education they are responsible. Additional support needs encompass a wide range of issues, including those which might impact on children of Service families, such as interrupted learning and dealing with bereavement. Local authorities also have a statutory duty to manage transitional arrangements for children with additional support needs.
6.7 The Scottish Government is working closely with the Children's Education Advisory Service, the tri-service organisation funded by the MoD to provide information and support to Service families and eligible MOD civilians on all aspects of the education of their children in the UK and overseas.
6.8 In April 2009 the Scottish Government hosted a Service Families, Children and Education seminar for education authority representatives and staff from schools with high numbers of service children. Presented jointly with the Children's Education Advisory Service, this seminar shared best practice examples, identified mutual challenges and explored options for ensuring that children of Service personnel could receive the best education.
6.9 After this, the Scottish Government and the Children's Education Advisory Service met again, to discuss the establishment of a coherent and comprehensive stakeholder network, comprising representation from COSLA, the voluntary sector, Learning and Teaching Scotland, MoD Scotland and the independent education sector. An initial meeting of that group is planned for October 2009, when its scope, remit and objectives will be decided.
6.10 Early tasks for the group to take forward are likely to include the development of a guide for parents and schools, on the differences in curricular structures and educational frameworks between Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. The Group will also be encouraged to consider existing resources which might have relevance for service children, such as the Rapid Integration Assessment Tool introduced for Gypsy/Traveller children experiencing interrupted learning.
6.11 Separate discussions are underway to explore the possibility of including a service child variable in the annual Scottish Pupil Census.
(b) Education and Training for Service Leavers
6.12 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out that the Scottish Government would:
- Introduce measures to allow Service leavers resident in Scotland, including those who choose to study part-time or elsewhere in the UK, and with six years' service, the opportunity to achieve their first Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework ( SCQF) level 6 qualification ( SVQ-level 3 or equivalent) free from tuition fees.
- Extend our fee arrangements to ensure that a Service leaver with six years' service can study a HNC, HND or full degree with no tuition fees.
Progress on Education and Training for Service Leavers
6.13 Most Scottish-based service leavers will be eligible for existing fee waiver support. The MoD Scheme (in Scotland) supports a first qualification at HNC/ HND level through to undergraduate degrees. The vast majority of service leavers wishing to take up the MoD offer are already eligible for free tuition under the normal Scottish Government student support arrangements.
(c) Education for Service personnel and their families
6.14 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment sets out that the Scottish Government would:
- Work with partners to develop new opportunities for Service families to access Basic Skills training through the spare capacity of armed forces education facilities.
Progress on Education for Service personnel and their families
6.15 Opportunities for basic skills training can be seen across Scotland in the activity of the 32 local authority Adult Literacy Partnerships, funded by Scottish Government under the terms of the Concordat agreement with CoSLA.
6.16 Examples include the Highland Adult Literacies Partnership, which funds literacies learning for the Army at Fort George; also Edinburgh's Adult Literacies Partnership, which provided basic literacies training to 199 military staff in Redford and Glencorse Barracks over 2008-09.
6.17 Colleges in Scotland also offer a wide range of vocational and academic courses for students of all ages and abilities, including short, medium and longer term programmes. Although primarily delivered within the college itself, colleges are increasingly offering distance learning opportunities to students, which Scottish Government supports and encourages.
6.18 This flexibility of provision lends itself to Service leavers and their families and increases the range of locations where learning can be delivered.
Under the terms of the Concordat between the Scottish Government and COSLA, it is the responsibility of each local authority to allocate the total financial resources available to it on the basis of local needs and priorities. Levels of support for adult literacies will be decided at a local level.
7. EMPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYABILITY
7.1 Service personnel have a lot to offer beyond their Armed Forces experience. They have skills to offer other employers such as the police, fire services, the civil service, local authorities and the health services as well as the wider private and third sectors. The corollary is that many professionals can also introduce and develop skills of benefit to the Armed Forces. Scottish Ministers want to support this two-way skills transfer as much as possible.
7.2 Reservists already have that link between Service and civilian life. Their commitment is inspirational and so arrangements for their work/Services balance have to be developed in a way that best supports their unique position in society.
7.3 It is also vital that families of Service personnel can secure employment when they move location.
7.4 To this end, Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment set out measures to help both service leavers and the family of Service personnel find employment in the public sector.
7.5 In November 2008 Achieving our Potential, the Scottish Government framework for tackling poverty was published. It set out the role of central and local government in ensuring that supported employment programmes are available for people with multiple and complex needs that face barriers to employment, including veterans.
7.6 A summary of progress is set out below.
Summary - Employment and Employability
(a) Flexible Careers and Reservists
Clearer signposting to the availability to public sector jobs; SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) Statement of Employer Support endorsed by First Minister.
(b) Supported Employment
Supported Employment Framework will establish standards and outcomes to ensure that those that are furthest from the labour market are provided with a tailored package of support to enable them to move towards, and into, employment.
Flexible Careers and Reservists
7.7 The Scottish Government has set out in Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment that it will:
- Develop the Defence Career Partnership with stakeholders, employers and the Ministry of Defence to enhance the two way skills exchange between Service and civilian employment.
- Develop ways in which it can create tailored access routes for Service leavers into employment in the public sector in recognition of the high levels of technical and instructional expertise they have to offer.
- Do more to signpost Service leavers with relevant transferable skills to other public sector employers.
- Assist family members to transfer their public sector employment as a result of a Service move.
- Together with NHSScotland, the Scottish Government will continue to provide support for staff members who are also members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces in recognition of their courage and dedication, often at considerable personal sacrifice.
- Progress on each of these undertakings is set out below:
Progress on Flexible Careers
Exchange of staff between the Scottish Government and the Armed Forces (for career development purposes)
7.8 The Scottish Government has an active interchange programme with other Government Departments and bodies outwith the Civil Service. The Scottish Government is always happy to discuss any opportunities for further exchanges with the Armed Forces.
Access Routes for Service leavers looking to join the Scottish Government
7.9 We understand that the Officers Association Scotland is keen to discuss tailored access routes for Service leavers interested in joining the Scottish Government. We would be happy to meet, in particular to discuss their experience with other organisations such as Police forces and Fire Brigades, and to explore what options there may be for tailored access routes. This would be on the understanding that any arrangements could not conflict with our requirements to comply with the Civil Service Commissioners Recruitment Principles or hamper operational efficiency.
Scottish Government recruitment of civil servants from other part of the UK when their serving spouse/partner is moving to Scotland
7.10 After internal advertising, and before advertising externally, the Scottish Government advertises all posts on the Cabinet Office managed recruitment site and the Civil Service Jobs Online site as opportunities for staff from other Government Departments. The Scottish Government would consider sympathetically any request for a compassionate transfer from civil servants from other Government departments located throughout the UK when their serving spouse/partner is moving to a location in Scotland.
7.11 COSLA has confirmed that recruitment opportunities within local authorities will be posted in major Armed Forces publications and that myjobscotland.gov.uk can be promoted within the military - this is a website where all local authority jobs in Scotland are advertised.
7.12 Achieving our Potential, the Scottish Government and COSLA framework for tackling poverty and income inequality in Scotland, is clear about the importance of employment in alleviating poverty and disadvantage, and of the role of central and local government in ensuring that supported employment programmes are available for people with multiple and complex needs that face barriers to employment.
7.13 PoppyScotland commissioned research into the employment needs of disabled and vulnerable veterans in Scotland. The report of the research, produced in March 2009, identified a range of additional support that is required to provide enhanced services to veterans with multiple and complex needs.
7.14 The Scottish Government is working with COSLA, local authorities and the third sector to develop and implement a Supported Employment Framework which will establish standards and outcomes to ensure that those that are furthest from the labour market are provided with a tailored package of support to enable them to move towards, and into, employment. We will work with PoppyScotland and other veteran partner organisations in this area to ensure that any distinctive needs of veterans are recognised.
Support to the Volunteer Reserve Forces
7.15 The First Minister has endorsed the SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) Statement of Employer Support. In addition, Scottish Ministers have indicated that they will work with the MoD in delivering the recommendations contained in the 2009 Strategic Review of Reserves.
7.16 The Scottish Government complies with Cabinet Office guidance & policy on the call up of reservists.
7.17 The Scottish Government has special leave provisions which allow for reservists to be released. Managers are instructed to support the request for unpaid special leave and not make a case for deferral or exemption from call out other than in very exceptional circumstances and only after consultation with Human Resources.
7.18 In addition the Scottish Government supports the Territorial Army and reserve forces and will give employees permission to join these forces wherever it is possible to do so.
7.19 For periods of training paid special leave will be granted for members of the Reserve Forces. In any training year, paid special leave of up to 8 working days may be granted for periods of reserve training of 15 days or more. Working days spent on training which exceed this limit will be treated as special leave without pay unless annual leave/flexi leave is taken. Where the annual training falls below 15 days the 8 day allowance is reduced proportionately.
7.20 In 2009 it was recognised that there was no national policy on the training and mobilisation of reservists working in NHSScotland. A short life working group consisting of NHSScotland and Scottish Government officials developed a policy in consultation with SABRE representatives. This policy is based on the model policy developed by SABRE and was modified to reflect the specific arrangements that apply to NHSScotland.
7.21 The policy sets out the actions to be taken to ensure that Reservists are supported during training and/or mobilisation. In particular it sets out the following provisions for training leave:
- Paid leave of two weeks per year will be made available to Reservists to attend annual camp or equivalent continuous training.
- Additional unpaid leave or annual leave from the employees normal annual allocation of up to 3 days will be granted for short periods of training provided adequate notice is given and where such training cannot be undertaken in off-duty time. Attendance at weekend camps, which cannot be undertaken during off-duty, will be subject to the same arrangements.
- Line managers will as far as possible facilitate work rosters to allow attendance for annual camp and other training commitments, eg weekly or weekend training sessions.
7.22 In terms of mobilisation the policy sets out the mechanisms that will ensure that reservists are supported before, during and after mobilisation including pension rights, annual leave entitlement, continuity of service and support in returning to work in NHSScotland following demobilisation.
7.23 This policy was issued in September 2009 to the Chief Executives of all NHS Boards in Scotland asking them to ensure that its provisions are implemented.
8. WORKING TOGETHER
8.1 It is vital that all public services work together to develop and deliver support to the Armed Forces and Veterans' community in an easily accessible and coherent way. This will ensure that services are targeted at those who need them most and that they are delivered in the most effective manner.
8.2 Community Planning in Scotland is a process which helps public agencies to work together and with the community to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people's lives. It was given a statutory basis in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. Community Planning Partnerships cover a range of responsibilities where partnership working is relevant, and we would expect the MoD to have varying degrees of involvement as appropriate according to local circumstances.
8.3 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment sets out that:
- Contact will be established between the MoD and childcare partnerships in local authorities where there is a significant concentration of Service families in order to ensure that service needs are taken into account in the childcare partnership review of supply and demand.
8.4 The Early Years Framework - the Scottish Government framework published in 2008 looks at childrens' needs before birth to the age of 8 years, recognises the need for parents to have access to high quality and affordable childcare services and sets out steps to be taken at national and local level to overcome accessibility and affordability challenges.
8.5 The framework sets a medium term objective for local partners to conduct a strategic view of childcare accessibility and start addressing gaps. The longer-term objective is for access to integrated pre-school and childcare services in every community matched to an assessment of local demand.
Scottish Veterans Fund
8.6 Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting our commitment sets out that:
- Scottish Government funding of the Scottish Veterans Fund will be doubled to almost £0.25m for the three year period 2008-11.
8.7 The Scottish Veterans Fund has been created by the Scottish Government with funding of £240,000 over three years until 2010-11.
8.8 The Scottish Veterans Fund is specifically aimed at projects that deliver new or innovative approaches to veterans' issues, or that seek to develop areas and activities that are not currently funded by either the Scottish Government or the MoD.
8.9 The benefits that projects bring to ex-Service personnel, their families and their dependents will be the predominant measure of any work undertaken, rather than the scale of any work.
8.10 Funding is available for individual projects up to a maximum level of £10,000 in order to assist as many projects as possible. Where projects are expected to exceed £10,000, applicants are advised to explore alternative avenues, such as the Veterans Challenge Fund or other charitable organisations and foundations.
8.11 Administration of the fund is undertaken by Veterans Scotland, which assesses each application against a set of criteria and then make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on how best to distribute the funding available.
Scottish Veterans Fund Awards 2008-9
A public event to mark the Veterans Awareness Day celebrations.
Thanksgiving Service for those Service personnel killed on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A book used to raise awareness of Veterans and issues surrounding their well being, aimed at young people.
Research for a report on the needs of service personnel returning from active service.
A report to gain a better understanding of alcohol dependency issues as they relate to Veterans.
Scottish Association for Mental Health ( SAMH)/Combat Stress.
To provide a practical Veterans guide to those agencies working with mental health difficulties.
Scottish Poverty Information Unit.
To collect base line information on the financial information on the financial situation and well being of veterans in Scotland.
Lady Haig Poppy Factory
Ventilation system for the Factory.
Scottish Veterans Residencies
To develop a new website to reach out to Forces leavers with the focus on Housing.
First Base Agency
To improve the lot of Service personnel with drug dependency as a result of being unable to cope with civilian life. This is a pilot project in the Dumfries area.
To train a fully qualified horticultural therapist.
Gordon Highlanders Museum
To hold workshops to give children a better understanding of veterans affairs.
Officers Association in Scotland
To run a pilot scheme for a bespoke service assisting transitions to civvy street.
Poppy Scotland/ Blake Stevenson
For research into employment needs of disabled veterans.
Bi-annual newsletter and directory for veterans.
Cadet Training Centre - Inverness
Trip to Normandy for 12 cadets and 4 veterans carrying the baton of Remembrance to celebrate the D-Day landings. With presentations on return.
A 3 year educational programme for children 3-18 on the importance of remembrance and the main issues facing veterans today.
Development of web-based CMS system.
To set up and support a carers support website.
One year fixed term contact - Assistant Psychologist.
Officers Association Scotland
To gain accreditation in coaching.
Scottish Veterans Residences
To convert the games room in Whitefoord House into a resource and IT centre, for use by veterans.
Start up costs for Pathfinder initiative.
90th anniversary service at St Giles Cathedral, 14th May 2009.
Total combined for 2008-2009 = £160,000.00
9. OTHER SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ACTIVITY
Armed Forces Advocate
9.1 The Scottish Government has appointed Dr Kevin Woods, DG Health and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland as its Armed Forces Advocate. A new Armed Forces and Veterans' Issues team has been established in the Scottish Government to support Dr Woods, act as a conduit between policy areas and the Ministry of Defence and to liaise with all appropriate UK Departments on issues impacting on the Armed Forces, their families and the veterans' community.
Armed Forces Day (previously Veterans Day)
9.2 The Scottish Government contributed to the planning and delivery of the first Armed Forces Day on 27 June 2009. The day honoured the outstanding contribution made to society by serving personnel and by veterans of all ages. There were celebrations across the UK, with many in Scotland, providing people with an opportunity to join together and pay tribute to our Armed Services.
9.3 Most events and celebrations were organised by local authorities, the Armed Forces and local veterans' organisations. There were parades, military displays and military bands. Some celebrations were large, others small. In total, 12 major events took place in Scotland. Scottish Government Ministers participated in a range of events, including the main parade in Edinburgh which was attended by the First Minister.
Veterans Programme Scottish Steering Group
9.4 The Scottish Government hosts the Veterans Programme Scottish Steering Group that meets four times each year. This group comprises Scottish Government officials, MoD officials and representatives of the veterans community in Scotland. Its aim is to facilitate the exchange of information on initiatives being driven forward by Government, to solicit the views of the veterans community on this work and to hear about any other issues of concern to veterans that can be addressed. Issues discussed include housing, health, education and training, transport and welfare matters.
Military & Civilian Health Partnership Awards
9.5 The Military and Civilian Health Partnership Awards 2009 took place on 29 October 2009 at Hopetoun House, Edinburgh. This is the second year of these prestigious awards and this year Scotland was the host nation.
9.6 The Military and Civilian Health Partnership Awards aim to recognise and promote the successful partnership between members of the Defence Medical Services and the civilian bodies, whether public or private, connected to the healthcare of the UK Armed Forces.
9.7 Awards went to the best individual or team in the following categories:
Innovation in Service Development Award
Education & Training Award
Deployed Healthcare Award
Health Improvement and Promotion Award
Mental Health Award
Care of Veterans
Healthcare Reservist of the Year Award
Team of the Year Award
9.8 The awards are open to military and civilian healthcare professionals either in the NHS, its partners, the MoD or private organisations and present an opportunity to promote and recognise the work of the NHSScotland and its partners who provide care to the armed forces in Scotland.
9.9 Individuals or teams can self nominate, or be nominated by others. The judging panels comprised members of the MoD, the UK Health Departments, other Civilian and independent members.
Direct Engagement with the Armed Forces
9.10 Scottish Ministers invited the heads of the Navy, Army and Air Force to meet with them to exchange ideas and views on what are the main issues of concern to the Armed Forces community in Scotland and to discuss ways in which they could work together in delivering the commitments contained within the MoD Command Paper and the parallel Scottish Government Commitments Paper. The tri-Service heads have also made a presentation on their place in and contribution to Scottish society to the Scottish Cabinet and it has been agreed that this should be an annual event.
9.11 In addition, Scottish Ministers have made a series of visits to operational bases in Scotland to listen directly to Service personnel on the issues which affect them and what needs to be done to ensure public services are delivered to the Armed Forces in the most appropriate way.
9.12 More generally, Scottish Government officials are engaged in regular meetings with senior officers from each of the Services on the delivery of the Command and Commitment Paper requirements, including through the "Firm Base Forum".
10. NEXT STEPS
10.1 Scottish Ministers believe that, while there has been considerable progress made in developing and improving public and support services to the Armed Forces and Veterans' community in Scotland, much more is still to be done to ensure the best level and quality of support to this section of our society. This will take time. Some work will build on the successes achieved to date and may be delivered quickly. Other work will take time to deliver.
10.2 The Scottish Government will also play a full part in implementing the issues emerging from the July 2008 UK Government Green Paper The Nation's Commitment to the Armed Forces Community: Consistent and Enduring Support to ensure that UK-wide proposals and their implications for Scotland are carefully considered and introduced in ways which are appropriate to Scottish needs.