2020 Interim Progress Report

Last June I published my first annual Progress Report against all 63 recommendations from the four in-depth SVC reports – covering transition; housing; employability, skills and learning and health and wellbeing.  This year, I intended to repeat this exercise, and publish a similar report in the 12 months from June 2019 to June 2020.  However, the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown many plans into disarray.

It has become clear that as Scottish Government officials and other resources have been re-prioritised to deal with the immediate demands of the pandemic and its aftermath,  particularly in areas of health and employment, I am not in a position to ask the Scottish Government to provide detailed updates at this time, without placing an unnecessary and unwelcome burden on government officials and others.

However, monitoring actions taken in response to my recommendations is an important aspect of my role.  I did not want to go beyond the 12 month point without making some assessment of progress in delivering existing recommendations, based on evidence I have seen or been able to identify over the past year (at least 8 months of which were unaffected by the pandemic).  Furthermore, I want to ensure government and partners maintain a focus on certain areas where there is already little doubt that increased efforts  will be necessary as the country moves into recovery.

With that in mind I have decided to publish this Interim Progress Report – a light touch ‘snap shot’ which offers a standard RAG (red, amber, green) rating, and is my independent assessment on how well government is doing against each recommendation from the SVC’s four reports.

I still intend to publish a full assessment on status at the end of this year, when all being well, I anticipate receiving detailed written up-dates from the Scottish Government against each of the recommendations.

Key
Not implemented
Partially implemented
Implemented but work should continue to embed
Fully implemented
Superseded

The recommendations are grouped by report, and you can go directly to the relevant section of the table here:

Transition in Scotland

Housing for Service Leavers & Veterans in Scotland

The Veterans Community – Employability, Skills and Learning

Veterans Health and Wellbeing – A Distinctive Scottish Approach

You can also access a printable PDF of these tables here.

Recommendations from Transition in Scotland, 2015

2020 Status

Interim Assessment

1MOD Advice & Briefings Relevant to Scotland - work to ensure that advice and MOD briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland.Recommendation has been pulled through to Housing Report and progress reported there.
2Information about resettlement destinations (housing) should reflect the information needs of Scottish Local Authorities. Work needs to continue to embed approach.
3Effective Devolved Services - ensure that devolved services can provide the full range of support to Service Leavers in Scotland.Work needs to continue to drive and embed change.
4Extend "Opportunities for All' Programme by relaxing age restrictions and extending eligibility criteria.Now fully met.
5Early Service Leaver Pilot Scheme - consider piloting a Community Jobs Scotland programme aimed at ESLs.Work needs to continue to embed approach.
6Incentives for Employers - extend recruitment incentives to encourage employers to recruit ESLs.No evidence of further progress at this stage.
7Employability Fund - consider options for targeting the Employability Fund, and future employability services, at Service Leavers.Recommendation has been pulled through to Housing Report and progress reported there.
8Modern Apprenticeships - should be actively promoted to ESLs and their potential employers.Now fully met.
9Invest in Young People Groups - Utilise regional Groups to promote young Service Leavers amongst prospective employers.Still no evidence of implementation.
10Youth Employment Initiatives - consider options for marketing government youth employment initiatives to early and young Service Leavers.No evidence of further progress at this stage.
11Engage with Employers - engage with employers to promote the employment of, and work placements for, Service Leavers.Work needs to continue to embed approach.
12Personal Development Plan - ensure that Armed Forces’ PDPs are relevant to those settling in Scotland.Superseded - PDPs no longer exist in the military.
13Retain current procedures for Access to Medical Records but also keep them under review.Work needs to continue to embed approach.
14Veterans and Families Research Institute - engage with the Institute to ensure research into transition in Scotland is included in future programmes.Now fully met.

Recommendations from Housing for Service Leavers & Veterans in Scotland, 2016

1MOD Advice & Briefings Relevant to Scotland - work to ensure that advice and MOD briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland.This recommendation was pulled-through from recommendation 1 in the 2015 Report. Work needs to continue to embed change.
2Proving a “local connection” - provide better explanations in MOD, Scottish Government and Local Authority publications.Now fully met.
3Routes into Social Housing - smooth the route into social housing by removing disadvantage caused by a lack of “local connection”.Now fully met.
4Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces - consider wider distribution of the Guide.Now fully met.
5Review and Improve Housing GuideNow fully met.
6Review Scottish Government Website Housing InformationNow fully met.
7Consolidate Scottish Government Information for VeteransNow fully met.
8Improve Local Authority Website Housing Information for Service Leavers and veterans.No evidence of further progress at this stage.
9Provide Guidance for Frontline Local Authority Staff on the principles of the Covenant and the council’s policy on housing support for veterans.Still no evidence of implementation.
10Scottish Government to improve links Between Local Authorities and MOD for information sharing.No evidence of further progress at this stage.
11Use Shelter Scotland and ASAP Citizens Advice Scotland Websites as good examples when upgrading and creating websites.Now fully met.
12Ensure Housing Information for Scotland is available on pan-UK websites in order to reach a wider audience.Now fully met.

Recommendations from The Veterans Community – Employability, Skills and Learning, 2016

1Establish a Veterans Employability, Skills and Learning Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and oversee activity.Strategic Group established but more work needed to drive progress.
2Scottish Veterans Fund - promote employability and increase job opportunities as the priority when allocating resources. Now fully met.
3Address Skills Gaps - review how the veterans community could be utilised to fill known skills gaps. No evidence of further progress at this stage.
4Regional Employability Pilot - initiate and co-ordinate a pilot project, based in an area where there is a high military and veteran population. Work needs to continue to embed change or use the learning.
5Research & Evaluation - Commission research to provide analysis of the employment situation for the veterans community.No evidence of further progress at this stage.
6Work Placement Scheme - employers to offer more placements to Service Leavers, veterans, spouses and partners. Still no evidence of implementation.
7Improving Literacy and Numeracy by promoting the benefits amongst Service Leavers and veterans.Now fully met.
8Improve Recognition of Military Qualifications and Skills amongst Scottish employers. Work needs to continue to build and embed change.
9CTP and SDS to build on existing relationship to ensure Service Leavers and veterans have seamless access to careers advice and guidance. Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
10Veterans Attending College - promote the benefits of, and opportunities to participate in, college education to veterans. Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
11Modern Apprenticeships - promote the Modern Apprenticeship programme to Early Service Leavers.Now fully met.
12Sponsorship at college - work to support sponsorship schemes allowing Service Leavers and veterans to undertake college studies in conjunction with full time employment.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
13Access Thresholds - consider how access thresholds can be specifically applied to the veterans community.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
14Articulation - specifically consider the veterans community as they embark on the expansion of articulation.Work needs to continue to embed approach.
15Information about Colleges and Universities - produce material designed specifically for the veterans community.Work needs to continue to embed approach.
16Veterans Network/Champions in Colleges and Universities - work to establish a network of champions across all colleges and universities. Now fully met.
17Parliamentary Scrutiny of Veterans IssuesNow fully met.
18Jobs within the Scottish Government - identify opportunities to better target and support the veterans community in securing Scottish Government jobs.Still no evidence of implementation.
19Jobs within NHS Scotland - develop and deliver commitments previously made to utilise the talents of the veterans community to provide support and advice to those applying for jobs within the NHS.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.

Recommendations from Veterans Health and Wellbeing - A Distinctive Scottish Approach, 2018

1Establish "A Distinctive Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health" at a strategic level, accept or adapt the guiding principles of this approach and work to embed it at an operational level.Work needs to continue to develop and embed approach.
2Improving Collaboration and Partnership through participation in cross-border networks.Work needs to continue to develop and embed approach.
3Leadership and Governance - refresh the membership and remit of the Armed Forces and Veterans Health Joint Group to provide vital strategic leadership.Now fully met.
4Establish a National Managed Clinical NetworkWork needs to continue to deliver and embed change.
5Produce a
Mental Health Action Plan for the long-term delivery of services and support.
Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
6Drugs Misuse - assess the scale and nature of drugs misuse – especially prescription and non-prescription painkillers amongst the veterans community in Scotland.Still no evidence of implementation.
7Reduce Barriers to veterans accessing mental health services.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
8Access to Life-long Services - make a commitment to veterans with the most severe and enduring physical (and mental) conditions that they can access the highest quality health and social care services for life and as their needs change.Still no evidence of implementation.
9Funding for Multiple Injuries - consider whether the costs of specialist care for veterans should be funded through the National Services Division (NSD).Still no evidence of implementation.
10The National Trauma Network - include the specific needs of veterans who have suffered polytrauma in setting up a national Trauma Network.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
11Wheelchairs for Amputees - adapt current arrangements to ensure an appropriate level of funding. Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
12Chronic Pain Management - National Advisory Committee for Chronic Pain (NACCP) should consider veterans specifically as part of their work to improve chronic pain management in Scotland.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
13Funding Hearing Aids - ensure appropriate funding is available for veterans with the most severe hearing loss as a result of their military service.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
14The Invictus Games - host 2019 Games in Scotland.Superseded – no longer feasible.
15Tackling Health Inequalities - identify veterans as a distinct group in NHS(S) work to tackle health inequalities. Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
16Identifying Veterans - work to increase the number of veterans declaring their previous service to GPs and others in the healthcare system.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
17Using Information - improve methods of recording, displaying and sharing information about veterans within the health and social care sector.Some evidence of progress but more work needed.
18Veterans Champions - Support the network of NHS and LA champions so that it can continue to be effective in supporting the delivery of health and social care to veterans.Now fully met.