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Our reaction to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Quinquennial Review 2023

The awaited Quinquennial Review (QQR) of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) has now been published making recommendations for amendments to the AFCS, the last review taking place in 2017 with changes being implemented in April 2018.

In carrying out the review general findings were made:

  1. There is a perceived lack of empathy on the part of the MOD, especially for those who are unable to engage in the claims process consistently or adequately, often due to the condition for which they are claiming.  It was also found that there is a pre set expectation on how well an individual should be able to recover from or cope with an injury, illness or disorder.
  1. There is inefficiency with regard to the effective and fair use of resources, often resulting from a lack of communication within the MOD, dissemination of inconsistent or incomplete information and disparities in awareness of the AFCS even amongst officials.
  1. There is inconsistency within the Scheme, stemming from inconsistent application of the underlying principles in the Scheme and as a result inconsistency in the outcomes of claims.
  1. There is a lack of transparency and independence in the policy and decision making process, as well as a lack of demonstrable willingness on the part of the MOD to be held accountable for its decisions.
  1. There is a lack of resilience as the scheme does not provide the necessary discretion to decision makers to make judgements which meet the needs of Claimants in the context within which decisions on claims are being made (i.e. taking into account developments in medical science, technology and societal attitudes).

Our Reaction

At Irwin Mitchell we very much welcome the QQR but are disappointed in a number of recommendations made which, if implemented will disadvantage Claimants.

The AFCS came into force on 6 April 2005 replacing the War Pension Scheme (WPS).  Decisions made under the WPS were made subjectively by case workers which by definition led to inconsistency since individual case workers had the authority to make a decision based upon their own personal opinion of a Claimant’s situation and the effects of the injury, on a case by case basis.

The recommendation within the QQR is that a return is made to the subjective decision making process which existed under the WPS.  It is stated in so many words within the QQR at paragraph 7.23 that “this may appear to be a readoption of the War Pension Scheme”.  It however goes on to say that this would be positive since it would provide “sufficient discretion to the decision maker to ensure improvements in medicine, technology and adaptations, as well as the Claimant’s individual circumstances, can be taken into account in each decision”.

It is further stated that although it is recognised that subjectivity will be introduced in the decision making process, that this will enable individual case workers to consider “if future developments will eliminate or mitigate the effects of the disorder” on the Claimant’s life.  It therefore appears to introduce more subjectivity with the authority to reduce or remove a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) award on the basis that future developments in medical science may improve the Claimant’s condition.

The case worker is therefore empowered to refuse an award of GIP even if a high tariff level award is given for the injury on the basis of a subjective decision in which they are required “to assess the Claimant’s life circumstances in the context of the condition”.  

Inconsistency between different decision makers is likely to mean that two decision makers making a decision regarding the impact and effect of a condition upon a Claimant’s social and family life will come to very different conclusions.


There are a great many recommendations within the report all of which need very careful consideration before a full and detailed response can be provided to those deciding upon the implementation of these recommendations.  We are taking some time to consider the matter carefully before providing our detailed response to the MoD and other interested parties expressing claimants’ views in due course.

Read more about our expertise in supporting armed forces personnel suffering from illness or injury.