A grant of a £171,995 has been awarded to the University of Salford, working with the University of York on a two-year project, to examine what impact interaction with the benefit system has on the transition of military personnel to civilian life, thanks to support from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT)…

The two-year study, called ‘Sanctions, support and Service leavers: welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life’, will investigate the effect of a conditional welfare system in the UK, including the use of sanctions, and how this affects ex-Service personnel and their families.

Around 17,000 men and women leave the British Armed Forces every year, and while most are able to easily move into civilian life, there are some who experience problems such as mental health issues, physical disabilities following service, drug and alcohol misuse and financial hardship.

Research will be conducted with members of military families who are in the benefits system, across Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Lancashire and London to understand how people leaving service find their way into the social security system and the wider impact of these policies. This will also be extended to policy makers, civil servants from the Department of Work and Pensions and members of campaign groups including the Royal British Legion.

The research project will link with the widerWelfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change study – an ongoing Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded five-year project involving six English and Scottish universities led by the University of York.

Dr Lisa Scullion, Associate Director of the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford who will be leading the project said: “Allowances are made to veterans who claim benefits as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, but very little is known about their lived experience of claiming benefits and meetings the conditions attached to these benefits. We also know very little about whether the support on offer as part of that system is actually appropriate for their specific needs as Service leavers”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We know that most members of the Armed Forces transition successfully into civilian life, however there are a number who experiences difficulties. There is no existing evidence about how welfare conditionality may impact service leavers as a specific group, and how these impacts may affect their future lives as civilians.

"This research has been commissioned to provide, for the first time, an evidence base allowing policy makers to better understand the challenges faced specifically by this group as they seek to make successful and sustainable transitions.”