Half-Billion-Pound Injury Bill for British Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

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Armed Forces Compensation Scheme claims for mental and physical injury have cost over half a billion pounds over the past decade, according to new government documents.

The government paid out £72,869,000 for compensation claims in the financial year 2014-2015, a higher figure even than that paid during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the most bloody in recent British history. According to a Freedom of Information request made to the Ministry of Defence, between 2005 when it was established and 2015 claims were paid out totalling £521,033,000

The moneys paid are split into three categories – those lump sums paid in compensation to those injured, guaranteed monthly payments to the most badly injured, and compensation to widows. Although lump-sum payouts have been the largest expense in the past ten years, they have varied depending on intensity of combat and military campaigns, with the figure paid peaking at £126 million in 2011 as Britain withdrew from Iraq. The following year, it more than halved to £50 million.

It is the guaranteed monthly payments for the worst injured and widows that is likely to grow most as a long term expense. In the past ten years, the bill has grown from £182,000 to £25 million a year.

The files also document the toll of mental illness of ex-servicemen, as problems developed due to service are recognised and compensation is paid. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the anxiety disorder caused by exposure to very stressful, frightening or distressing events is the most common claim. It is also one of the most accepted by the Ministry of Defence – of 1,640 claims made in the past ten years, 1,300 were considered genuine with up to £140,000 awarded per case.

One of the least common mental problems claimed for was the development of vertigo or a fear of heights, with ten cases in ten years. Only half were considered to be genuine military cases and received on average £7,300 each. In ten years there have also been five claims for Narcolepsy, ‘an extreme tendency to fall asleep’, but none received compensation.

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