Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS.)
The AFCS represents a worker’s death or injury in service scheme paying out a lump sum gratuitous award, the top award being currently £570,000.
The scheme has been in operation since 2005.
Whilst the scheme is to be commended there is cause for concern in that large sums of money are paid to sometimes very young (18 year olds) in to the bank account where their salary is paid without any checks being implemented to:
- Consider if the bank account is a joint account or if anyone can access the account and withdraw a soldier’s financial lump sum payment. There is evidence of this happening.
- Does the recipient have the mental capacity to receive and manage large sums of money? There is evidence that even when the claim is for a brain injury no assessment of mental capacity is taking place. These recipients are vulnerable adults where the Court of Protection should be involved to give good receipt and control finances so they are wisely invested and not dissipated on buying inappropriate vehicles or spending frivolously.
- Many recipients are in receipt of state, means tested, benefits. The lump sum award can be ring fenced in to a special needs trust to protect current and future state benefits. But is this being done?
- Assess family dynamics – can the family be trusted or is there a relative in the back ground ready to relive vulnerable injured soldiers of their awards? Court of Protection intervention could prevent this.
- Even if there is mental capacity no offer is made of financial advice or planning even if it is refused.
- Who should assess mental capacity? The Ministry of Defence has duel capacity as Employer/Health care provider and paymaster. Does this create a conflict of interest for the MoD? Should there be an independent assessment made as in the NHS Trusts?
These problems are only just becoming a serious reality. Time is passing and the money is running out. Without checks in place the situation will worsen.
As a solicitor instructed on such cases, I would be professionally negligent and open to reprimand and disciplinary procedures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and legal claims if I allowed this situation to happen in my care.
I have met with the SPVA, MOD and MP’s but the situation remains unchanged