We are committed to providing support for our Veterans and ensuring they can benefit from the same discounted travel as serving members of our forces. Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government launched in October the Veterans Railcard at a discounted price for Veterans in Scotland. The railcard, which offers a 34% discount on travel, will be available at an overall lower cost of £15 until March 2021 (the introductory price elsewhere in the UK is £21). This represents an overall potential investment of £160,000.
The Scottish Government continues to engage widely in considering the needs of the Veterans and Armed Forces Community in Scotland. Working closely with partners in the private and third sectors and across the public sector, including Local Authorities, remains key to improving the support and services for the Armed Forces and Veterans community. We also work collaboratively with the Armed Forces through, for example, the Tri-Service Firm Base Steering Group and participate in cross-Government forums with the UK Government and other Devolved Administrations. We worked closely with the three Services to contribute to and deliver commemorative events during 2020 including the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day and the 80th anniversary of St-Valery-en-Caux.
The Scottish Parliament agreed that Scotland's next census will include, for the first time, a question designed specifically to identify those who have previously served in the Armed Forces, providing accurate numbers of Veterans and their locations in Scotland. Analysis of this data will be used to support a programme of work to better identify and support the Veterans community in Scotland. The impact of COVID-19 has meant that the Census has been moved and will now take place in 2022.
Skills Development Scotland – Partners & Spouses Awareness Sessions
SDS delivered a bespoke information session to partners and spouses of 3 SCOTS in October 2019. The session focused on support and services available from SDS and included one-to-one time after the session. 20 partners/spouses attended the session and six individuals sought further discussions after the event. Engagement with partners and spouses has continued and will be adapted to suit circumstances and guidance. The sessions will be a blend of online and face-to-face as appropriate and within government guidelines.
Scottish Veterans Commissioner
The Scottish Government welcomed the Commissioner's scene-setting paper on Transition published in November 2019 and his at-a-glance progress report at the end of June 2020. We look forward to reviewing the recommendations in his forthcoming Employability, Skills and Learning paper and have been engaged in the development of his full 2020 progress report. We will continue to work with stakeholders to deliver the Commissioner's outstanding recommendations.
Scottish Veterans Fund
The Scottish Government continues to invest in the Scottish Veterans Fund and in 2020-21 funded 15 Projects totalling £166,127, in partnership with Standard Life Aberdeen. Since 2008, more than 170 projects have received more than £1.6 million from the Fund.
As of 2020-21, the Scottish Veterans Fund includes a requirement for organisations bidding into the fund to demonstrate their commitment to Fair Work Framework criteria. The criteria for bids into the fund for 2021-22 have been extended this year to include projects which address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Veterans Community within Scotland.
The Scottish Government has provided additional support to potential applicants this year, by staging two events offering support and guidance on applying for funding, with a particular focus on enabling smaller bidders to fully articulate the aims and desired outcomes of their projects.
Training for front-line Service Providers
During 2020, the Scottish Government, in partnership with local authorities, MOD and Veterans Scotland, promoted and distributed Armed Forces and Veterans awareness training to all local authorities in Scotland via the network of Armed Forces Champions. The e-learning is a simple, user-friendly resource which aims to raise awareness and understanding of the Armed Forces Covenant, how it is implemented in the community and how the principles should be applied at a local level. The training package also provides sources of further information and support for the Veterans and Armed Forces Community. Consideration is being given to expanding this across other front-line service providers including the NHS.
Unforgotten Forces Consortium
The Unforgotten Forces Consortium is a partnership of 16 civilian and ex-service charitable organisations with the purpose of delivering a wide array of services to Veterans in Scotland aged 65 and over. It delivered almost 8,608 episodes of support for older Veterans across Scotland during its first two years. The Consortium was funded by a £4m grant of LIBOR money from the MOD's Aged Veteran's Fund which ended in June 2020. From 2020-21, the Scottish Government will contribute £750,000 to the Consortium over three years until 2022-23 to improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life for older Veterans in Scotland.
Money and Pension Service
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) brings together three respected financial guidance bodies: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. Its mission is to ensure that everyone in Scotland can easily access the information they need to make the right financial decisions for them throughout their lives, making the most of money and pensions. To help make this happen, MaPS has a statutory remit to develop a 10 year strategy for the financial wellbeing of all people across the UK, including Scotland.
A key component of the strategy is to ensure that MaPS engages with stakeholders across Scotland, including with Veterans organisations, to understand if there are any particular challenges with regard to financial wellbeing that apply to them. This will then feed into MaPS' Delivery Plan for Scotland which will be published in March 2021. The Scottish Government is working in partnership with MaPS to develop the Delivery Plan and facilitated a virtual roundtable in September 2020 to inform the development of the Plan. Several Veterans organisations were represented at the roundtable including Poppyscotland, Legion Scotland, COBSEO, Families Federations, SSAFA, Ministry of the Defence, Army, Armed Services Advice Project, Forces Pension Society and Veterans Scotland.
Money Advice Trust
The Scottish Government funded the publication of the Money Advice Trust's guide "How to Deal with Debt" which is due for launch in late 2020 following postponement due to COVID. The Money Advice Trust worked with the Armed Services Advice Project, part of Citizens Advice Scotland, to ensure that the specific needs of the Veterans community were addressed in the guide.
Support During COVID-19
In the build up to the Remembrance, the Scottish Government issued guidance to all local authorities and key third sector stakeholders to support the delivery of safe Remembrance and ceremonial events during COVID-19.
Police Scotland has been seeking to build upon commitments made under the Armed Forces Covenant and further engage with Wounded, Injured or Sick (WIS) Veterans. Police Scotland are trialling Veterans secondments and discussions have taken place with the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) for Scotland and Northern Ireland to formalise agreements to enable the PRU to support the rehabilitative programmes in place for individuals seconded to Police Scotland. This provides a safe environment for WIS Veterans to build confidence, use the skills gained during Service and to develop new skills to further support their transition from the military.
In addition, several Police Scotland recruitment events aimed specifically at military personal have been organised, including two online events in conjunction with the Career Transition Partnership.
Police Scotland have a well-established cadre of Veterans Champions. The Champions promote links between Police Scotland and military establishments, Veterans associations and military charities in their local area, whilst also publicising the established national referral scheme to divisional colleagues. This referral scheme exists to support any serving or former members of the Services who may have encountered challenging personal circumstances and would benefit from bespoke support from military charities.
In the past year, over 30 police officers and staff within the national custody estate volunteered to become Veterans Champions in support of local policing colleagues to promote this unique referral service, operated in conjunction with the Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP).
In November 2019, the first joint local Policing and custody Veterans Champions National Forum took place at the Scottish Police College with Poppyscotland, ASAP and Veterans Scotland all in attendance.