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Support for war veterans and widows to continue in Cannock Chase

A support scheme to assist war veterans and widows of those who gave their lives in conflict is set to continue in Cannock Chase.


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Most incomes are included in assessments for Housing Benefit entitlement, but Cannock Chase Council has disregarded payments such as war disablement or war widow’s pension for several years when considering the level of support offered towards paying rent and council tax.

A recent audit of the authority’s benefit subsidy claim identified that the discretionary spend policy needs to be refreshed.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting members agreed for the scheme to continue in its current form.

The scheme currently costs the council around £14,000 a year.

It applies to pensions under the Armed Forces Pensions and Compensation schemes, and similar payments, for war disablement, war widows, war widowers and war bereaved civil partners, as well as equivalent payments from governments outside the UK and pensions paid to the victims of Nazi persecution by the governments of Germany or Austria or by the government of the Netherlands.

Cabinet member Councillor Jaquie Prestwood said: “The council has the discretion to disregard war disablement and war widows’ pensions to give veterans and widows more help when they are receiving payment.

"The council has done this for many years and will continue to do so – this report refreshes that position.”

Opposition group leader Councillor Olivia Lyons backed the proposal to continue the support.

She said: “This report is a formality to reaffirm our commitment.

“Having looked at the report there are five beneficiaries in the district at the moment. I wholeheartedly support this.”

A motion calling for other support for the Armed Forces community was also put forward at Wednesday’s meeting by Councillor David Williams.

This will now be referred to the council’s cabinet for further consideration.

He called on the council to continue its Armed Forces Champion role and support of Armed Forces Week and set up a working group to consider improvements that can be made to how the authority supports the Armed Forces community.

He also asked the council’s leader and chief executive to write to the Government to urge it to extend additional fundamental financial support to service personnel, as well as raising concerns about the level of support currently given to Afghan refugees.

He said: “Our council has fallen behind in our advocacy for the Armed Forces Community with other local councils who have recently been awarded Ministry of Defence’s ERS Gold Award status.

"ERS Gold Status is the highest award from the MOD and demonstrates an organisation’s increased commitment to the Armed Forces community and excellent advocacy.

“A decade of pay cuts in real terms, coupled with the escalating cost-of-living crisis and delays in the Armed Forces pay award, are directly affecting our Service Personnel and their families.

"Amidst these challenges, it is charities and regimental associations that continue to step in, providing essential cost of living grants and vouchers to our veterans and their families; this situation underscores the urgent need for systemic change to better support those who have served our nation.

“In the aftermath of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the UK has become a sanctuary for many Afghan refugees.

"However, a significant number of these individuals are grappling with homelessness as they await confirmation of their status.

“Furthermore, there are still eligible Afghan refugees, including those who have supported the UK and NATO allies in Afghanistan, who remain stranded in their homeland.

"This situation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address these challenges.”

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