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New Forces in Mind Trust award: University of Salford to examine impact of UK benefits system on Veterans

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 wider Welfare 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.”

Ray Lock is available for interviews.  To arrange an interview please contact Kate Turner at kturner@theproffice.com or on 07919 887 036 or 0207 284 6944.

 Notes to editors:

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations.  FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.  http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships.

All work is published in open access and hosted on the Veterans’ Research Hub.  A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

Website: www.fim-trust.org

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/

Twitter: @FIMtrust

About the Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change Study:

The Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change study involves interviews with nearly 500 people who use benefits, along with MPs, civil servants, and charities.

The first wave of findings, announced in June 2016, found that the effect of sanctions and support integral to much UK welfare left some resorting to crime and using food banks.

The project is led by the University of York, with researchers from the University of Salford, Heriot-Watt University, Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Glasgow.