Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £299,150 to the University of Salford, working in collaboration with the University of York and University of Central Lancashire, to conduct a three-year study on the experiences of veterans and their families as they navigate the benefits system.

The project follows on from the previous ground breaking Sanctions, Support and Service leavers study to capture the experiences of ex-Service personnel and their families during a period of significant welfare reform. The project will also examine how service-related impairment is approached within the assessment process and explore the impact of new commitments made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) since the last report, including the commitments to enhance the Armed Forces Champions Network and the assessment process.

The project team, led by Professor Lisa Scullion at the University of Salford, will conduct qualitative interviews with veterans who are either already claiming Universal Credit or who will transition to Universal Credit over the next few years. The cohort will include both participants who engaged with the first research study as well as new participants whose recruitment will be facilitated by the DWP. The research team will also interview DWP staff, organisations providing benefits advice and support, and benefit assessors.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “This award builds on the great work already achieved by Lisa and her team and I am delighted that we are able to fund the next phase. The initial project not only provided us with a better understanding of the challenges and needs of a hidden veteran population but helped result in an extra £5 million of funding for the DWP, and an enhanced commitment to support the Armed Forces Community. The engagement from, and progress made, by the DWP is highly commendable. We look forward to working with them throughout this project to ensure that some of the most vulnerable ex-Service personnel and their families are properly supported.”

Professor Lisa Scullion, says: “We are incredibly proud to be able to continue our work focusing on veterans within the benefits system. The DWP have made significant and welcome commitments following the publication of our research. However, we believe that those findings were not an end point; rather, they represent the beginning of our collective efforts to ensure that social security appropriately supports veterans and their families. It is imperative that we are able to continue to provide a robust evidence base to support the development of these new initiatives and to ensure that the appropriate delivery of social security for veterans and their families is not forgotten during a period of substantial welfare reform.”