Veteran angry over MoD compensation
8:15am Wednesday 6th August 2014 in © Press Association 2014
A UK veteran has hit out at waiting times for compensation to ex-members of the forces, describing it as "a form of torture".
Alex Ford dismissed as "farcical" claims from the Ministry of Defence that waiting times have improved and are now in the region of four to five months for those seeking financial reimbursement for injury, illness or death caused while in service.
Mr Ford told BBC Breakfast it was more usual for people to wait at least a year before claims are dealt with by Veterans UK.
"You could go to any number of veterans who are making a claim against it and talk to them and every one of them would say that (the waiting time) is farcical," he said.
"For anything other than a plain and simple clear-cut case you are talking at least a year for anything to happen."
Mr Ford said he thinks the situation got worse since 2012, as a result of redundancies from the Armed Forces, adding that Veterans UK was "totally unprepared" for the number of people making claims.
The Ministry of Defence said it dealt with 36,000 claims last year, and insisted claims times have reduced.
" We are committed to dealing with all claims as quickly as possible but it is crucial that every claim is considered on a case by case basis," said a spokeswoman for the MoD.
"These claims are often complex and may require additional information from third party groups so it can take time to ensure everyone gets the compensation they need.
"Last year we dealt with around 36,000 claims and we have significantly improved our processes over the last three years so that the average waiting time is now around 4-5 months.
"We continue to ensure that we prioritise claims, such as those from seriously injured veterans, and we work closely with veterans' charities to keep everyone fully informed of our processes and any issues."
Labour MP Madeleine Moon, who sits on the defence committee, said it was natural for staff processing claims to opt to deal with the simpler ones first to get their numbers down and park the more complicated ones.
But she added: "The space (to get through the complex ones) never evolves."
In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she suggested the number of compensation claims had gone up due to redundancies as they cannot be made until a person has left the armed forces.
She also said it was down to an increase in injuries as staff are more stretched and forced to undertake more tasks.
Mrs Moon said: "We ask people to put their lives and futures on the line. The work that they do is tough.
"We are asking people to undertake strenuous, difficult training day after day.
"It's a tough life. You are going to take a toll with both your body and potentially your mind.
"It's only right if you set up a compensation scheme that people have the right to make a claim against it."
Asked about the suggestion that a compensation culture was partly responsible for the backlog, she replied: "I think that's offensive."