Why we exist
The Society started life in 1946, formed then to campaign for better Service pensions in the aftermath of the War. The Society performs two principle functions:
It is a WATCHDOG, scrutinising the actions of the MOD and government to make sure that they apply the rules concerning Armed Forces pensions fairly and consistently and that the rules themselves are appropriate. Much of this work is done behind the scenes, but when necessary we will campaign publicly and vociferously for change. The Society sits as an independent representative on the MOD Pension Board and also on the Public Sector Pensions Council alongside various public sector trades unions. The Society is also represented at the Customer Advisory Group run by Veterans UK, the MOD Agency that administers Armed Forces Pensions. The Society acts as a watchdog for the whole Armed Forces community, not simply its membership. To ensure we can fulfil this role independently the Society does not seek or receive any public funds. It is also structured as a not for profit membership society rather than a charity, to give it the greatest freedom of action when campaigning. The Society is therefore like a charity but not a charity, like a trade union but not a trade union.
The Society also acts as a GUIDEDOG for its members. This means answering their questions about their particular pensions issues, enabling them to seize control of their destiny and make informed decisions about their future. Armed Forces pension schemes are consciously used as a manning and retention tool and also provide an income stream earlier than most civilian schemes. Queries range from those who simply want to understand their entitlement better or want a forecast verified to those who want to know details about a particular issue affecting them. This could be how to commute their pension or add to it, the implications of FTRS service, divorce, retiring at a particular date, medical awards, Annual Allowance, Life Time Allowance or how to make a complaint or resolve a mistake. Over the last few years Armed Forces pensions have become increasingly complex. Once there was a single scheme; now there are four mainstream schemes and although all but one are closed to new joiners, most of those with service before 2015 will have at least two separate pension entitlements, potentially paying out different sums at different times. Getting a satisfactory explanation of entitlements is difficult, and although MOD provides a number of tools to help (such as the on line calculator) these have limitations and do not talk back, which is why service personnel are joining the Society in increasing numbers. We do not make decisions for individuals; but we do arm them with the facts so that they can make informed decisions for themselves.