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Soldiers wounded in Afghanistan win compensation boost

EXCLUSIVE

HERO soldiers injured in action will get tens of thousands of pounds more in compensation.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth is set to announce an overhaul of the compensation scheme which will see seriously hurt troops get 30% more cash every year.

Compo for mental illness will go up too.

And the changes will be retrospective so they will apply to hundreds of soldiers already getting compensation as well as those injured in the future.

Mr Ainsworth asked the former head of the army Admiral Lord Boyce to carry out a major review of the compensation scheme after a barrage of criticism for measly payouts.

Lord Boyce has made a string of recommendations after the Defence Secretary told him “money is no object”. And Ainsworth has accepted every one of them.

Boyce’s team concluded that the tax-free lump sum pay-out to the most seriously injured soldiers of up to £570,000 was sufficient.

But he said the annual awards that they get are not enough and will go up by 30%.

On top of the lump sum, more seriously injured soldiers get the “guaranteed income payment” to compensate them for loss of earnings.

The amount varies depending on the seriousness of the injury, the age and salary of the soldier.

But Boyce said the current system failed to recognise that soldiers get promoted. He said it was not fair to base a private’s compo on the salary he was paid when he was injured because he may have gone on to become a sergeant.

The changes mean a private who might get £20,000 a year after losing a leg will now get £26,000.
And that is on top of free medical care and grants to make adaptations to his home.

Compensation for mental illness caused in the service of their country will also increase. Ministry of Defence officials will decide by how much next week.

Injured squaddies will also now be able to get interim payments to tide them by while they wait for their full awards to come through.

And they will be given longer to apply for compo.

Lord Boyce has also called for them to be given free financial advice so they put the money to best use.

An MoD source said: “Bob realised people didn’t have confidence in the system. He was determined to put that right.

“He asked Boyce to make whatever changes he thought were necessary and not to be constrained by money. We needed to get this right.

“The payments are not enough at the moment. One failing was that they did not recognise that people get promoted.

“If a private is injured it is not fair to assume they would always have been a private and base their awaards on a private’s pay. They could well have gone on to become a sergeant so that should be taken into account.”

Boyce drew up his recommendations with help from injured soldiers, army charities, legal and medical experts.

He spoke to patients at army rehabilitation centres such as Headley Court and Selly Oak.

The announcements - expected this week - come after defence chiefs faced a slew of criticism for compo payouts.

The MoD was blasted last year for appealing against compensation given to two wounded soldiers.
The Court of Appeal ruled servicemen should get more compo if their afflictions worsen.

And brave soldiers who put their lives on the line for the nation have had to fight the MoD to get proper compensation.

Lance bombadier Ben Parkinson shamed the government with his campaign for a fair deal.

An explosion in Afghanistan in 2006 blew off both of his legs above the knees, broke his back and caused 35 other injuries.

He was offered just £152,000. But he finally got £540,000 after a brave campaign.

The latest boost is modest and not as much as some campaigners had hoped for.

But it has been welcomed by soldiers. Douglas Young of the British Armed Forces Federation - the unofficial soldiers’ union - said: “These people are some of the most deserving in the country. We have been pushing for an increase in compensation and now it seems the government is acting.

“Bob Ainsworth should be congratulated. He has shown he is willing to change the system.”

 

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