Veterans advisory and pensions committees (VAPCs) are advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Their statutory function is to engage at a local level with the recipients of two schemes which pay compensation to service personnel who have been injured while serving or those whose injuries are attributable to their service. Their purpose is to raise awareness of the schemes and report to government any issues or recommendations.

The committees have taken on a broader non-statutory role in the past decade, focusing on raising awareness of other initiatives that are of potential interest to all veterans and their families.

In 2021, the government provided VAPCs with new non-statutory terms of reference (ToRs) for a period of 12 months. They were intended to “set the VAPCs a clearer, more wide-ranging role and to ask them to complete certain local-engagement activities”. The government committed to reviewing the new ToRs and said that it would also consider whether the current enabling legislation remained fit for purpose.

The Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committees Bill is a private member’s bill supported by the government. It is intended to widen the statutory functions of VAPCs and, according to the government, to “bring them more in line with how they have operated in recent years”. The bill would:

  • repeal section 25 of the Social Security Act 1989 and move the powers in that act into the Armed Forces Act 2006
  • enable VAPCs to carry out additional functions in relation to other welfare services as well as raise awareness of initiatives like the armed forces covenant
  • allow VAPCs to continue carrying out functions currently contained in the War Pensions Committees Regulations 2000
  • widen the cohort of veterans that would be in the scope of VAPCs’ statutory functions to include all veterans and their families

In the House of Commons, Robin Millar (Conservative MP for Aberconwy) sponsored the bill. The bill passed its Commons stages unamended and received cross-party support, including from the government. The MoD produced the bill’s explanatory notes.

The bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 27 March 2023 and is sponsored by Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton (Conservative). At the time of writing, a date for the bill’s second reading in the Lords had not been announced. The explanatory notes to the bill as introduced in the House of Lords were again prepared by the MoD.

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