Hilary Meredith Solicitors is calling on the Government to follow its own return to work guidance so that army veterans can receive desperately needed payments.
Veterans UK, the support organisation responsible for administering the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), remains unaware of pre-lockdown Tribunal decisions and unable to process casework and payments.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors has been in communication with Veterans UK over a number of cases, including an urgently needed payment for an army veteran who won his appeal at Tribunal on 18 March 2020, five days before the UK’s 23 March 2020 lockdown.
Having been told by The Tribunal Service that it was no longer operating and to “refrain from sending emails with respect your client/appellants as this will incur unnecessary cost in these difficult times” the firm has been told that due to COVID-19, The Veterans UK office “is currently closed and post is not being received. As our staff are not able to attend the office, we are currently unable to process casework, including requests for new claims, reviews, reassessments and appeals until our staff are able to return.” Some records also go back to World War II and are only available on paper – making remote working impossible.
Commenting on the Government’s latest advice, Hilary Meredith, founder and CEO at Hilary Meredith Solicitors said:
“The Prime Minister has stressed that anyone who cannot work from home should be actively encouraged to return to work.
“Veterans UK has already confirmed that their caseworkers cannot process new claims, reviews, assessments and appeals by working from home.
“On the basis the government can satisfy its own COVID-19 secure safety standard for the workplace, I am seeking confirmation that the Veterans UK office will now be reopening with caseworkers returning to work in line with the new guidance.”
The case Hilary Meredith Solicitors won at Appeal on 18 March 2020 relates to a veteran with Non-Freezing Cold Injury in all four limbs. He was awarded a substantial sum plus a Guaranteed Income Payment – a tax free, index linked monthly payment.
“This case was decided nearly a week before the COVID-19 lockdown even started – and Veterans UK has still not received the decision.
“Our client in this case is unable to work having been medically discharged from the army. He has a wife who works on the front line for the NHS and three young children at home. With no money he is struggling to pay his bills while his mental health is deteriorating all the time.”