Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:48 UK

MoD payout review to start early

UK soldier in Afghanistan
The MoD argues compensation should be for "original injuries" only.

The Ministry of Defence has announced it is bringing forward a review of compensation for members of the armed forces to start immediately.

On Tuesday, a legal bid by the MoD to try to cut the compensation awarded to two injured servicemen attracted widespread criticism.

The review would not affect the cases currently being heard.

But an MoD spokeswoman said it wanted to address some of the issues highlighted by these cases.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said it was clear the scheme was not fully equipped to deal with "anomalies, legal complexities and wider issues" relating to compensating wounded troops.

'No doubt on commitment'

He said: "The purpose of the current appeal process was to ensure that our Armed Forces Compensation Scheme remains fair and compensates most those more seriously injured.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said bringing the review forward was the right thing to do

"As defence secretary I cannot allow the situation to continue that leaves the public in any doubt over my or the government's commitment to our servicemen and women.

"Therefore, in order to deal with this complex issue in the most sensitive, effective and fair way possible, I have ordered the planned review of the compensation scheme to be brought forward from next year."

The Court of Appeal action involves Corporal Anthony Duncan and Royal Marine Matthew McWilliams.

Cpl Duncan was initially awarded £9,250 after being shot, while Marine McWilliams received £8,250 for fracturing his thigh on a training exercise, before they appealed to a tribunal for further compensation.

Both men argued they had suffered a number of subsequent health problems during their treatment and these should not be regarded as separate from their original injuries.

'Much fairer'

Mr Ainsworth said the current compensation scheme was already "much fairer" than its predecessor and the lump sum payments for the most serious injuries were doubled to £570,000 last year.

He added: "I recognise that the changing requirements of our people mean that we cannot stand still.

"The world-class medical care that we provide on operations means that more people are surviving very serious injuries than before.

"We need to ensure that the scheme is responsive enough to meet their needs."

He also pledged that new arrangements would benefit troops who have made claims under the existing scheme.

Shadow defence minister Andrew Murrison said he welcomed the review of the scheme which was "clearly not fit for purpose" in its current form.

'Perverse decisions'

"So far, it appears to have produced a number of perverse decisions that have taken no account of the likely long-term needs of people who have suffered from serious mental or physical disability in the service of their country.

"The review must look at the amounts which are paid out, the time within which claims can be made, and a way in which awards can reflect the real care needs of our injured service personnel."

The review of the compensation scheme will involve consultation with legal experts, service charities and troops and their families.

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