Annual Progress against SVC Recommendations

As Scottish Veterans Commissioner, an important aspect of my role is providing scrutiny and supportive challenge to policy makers and those providing services to the veterans’ community.

When I took up the position in September 2018, a fundamental question I wanted to answer was how much progress had been made by the Scottish Government against the 63 recommendations my predecessor, Eric Fraser, made across his four key reports.

I requested a status report from the Scottish Government in early 2019 and carried out an assessment of progress, applying a standard RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating for each recommendation based on the evidence supplied.

It was always my intention to carry out this assessment annually, to closely monitor and report progress – marking successes as well as highlighting areas requiring more attention. The findings from my latest assessment, carried out in September 2021, are reported below.

This is my third progress report covering all of 63 of the original SVC recommendations and the RAG status applied to each of them in 2019, 2020 and 2021, based on factual updates provided by the Scottish Government. You can view the status of each recommendation and read the updates provided for 2021, by clicking on the overview bar below. Alternatively, you can download and print a table containing the 2021 updates here.

In December 2020, with my first report in the Positive Futures series, I moved to making outcomes-focused recommendations to government. Recognising that achieving change would inevitably become more challenging as we moved to consider some of the more ingrained issues, I moved to develop broader recommendations, focused on what needs to be better for veterans and their families longer term. I wanted to focus on ‘what’ was required at a strategic level and encourage partnership working and creative thinking on ‘how’ best to deliver the improvement needed amongst the experts in delivery. I also wanted to align effort to the outcomes set out in the UK-wide Strategy for Our Veterans.

This will be my approach going forward and gradually all SVC recommendations will be outcomes-focussed. I will produce my first assessment of progress against the 10 outcomes-focused recommendations made in my Employment, Skills and Learning Report and 4 recommendations in my Housing: Making a Home in Civilian Society Report in early 2022.

Get an overview of the findings for 2019 and 2020 here.

More about our approach to analysing progress here.

Get an overview of the findings for 2021 here.

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

Recommendations from Transition in Scotland, 2015

2019 Status

2020 Status

2021 Status

Update from Scottish Government

1MOD advice and briefings relevant to Scotland - The Scottish Government should continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that online advice and briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland, so that Service Leavers choosing to settle in Scotland are not disadvantaged.This recommendation has been merged with Recommendation 1 of the Housing report and progress will be assessed there.
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2Information for Local Authorities - The Scottish Government and COSLA should engage with the UK Government to ensure that work on providing more information about resettlement destinations reflects the information needs of Scottish Local Authorities.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
3Effective devolved services - The Scottish Government and its agencies should engage closely with the UK Government once the new Career Transition Partnership (CTP) programme is in place to ensure that devolved services can provide the full range of employability, skills and learning support to Service Leavers in Scotland.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
4Extending "Opportunities for All' programme - The Scottish Government should consider introducing flexibility to relax the age restrictions, extending the eligibility for criteria within ‘Opportunities for All’ for Early Service Leavers.
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Achieved in 2020
5Early Service Leaver pilot scheme -The Scottish Government and the Third Sector should consider piloting a Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) programme aimed at Early Service Leavers.
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Achieved in 2020
6Incentives for Employers - The Scottish Government, in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Local Authorities and the Third Sector, should consider options to extend recruitment incentives so that they encourage employers to recruit Early Service Leavers.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
7Employability Fund -The Scottish Government, Local Authorities and Skills Development Scotland should consider options for targeting the Employability Fund, and future employability services, at Service Leavers.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
8Modern Apprenticeships - The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland should consider actively promoting Modern Apprenticeships to Early Service Leavers and to their potential employers.
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Achieved in 2020
9Invest in Young People Groups - The Scottish Government should utilise Regional Invest in Young People Groups across Scotland to promote young Service Leavers amongst prospective employers.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
10Youth employment initiatives - The Scottish Government, working with devolved partners and engaging with the UK Government and Armed Forces, should identify opportunities and consider options for marketing its youth employment initiatives to Early and young Service Leavers, which might include targeted presentations, tailored leaflets, accessible on-line information and wider campaigns to raise awareness of the support available.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
11Engage with employers - The Scottish Government should use its existing mechanisms for engaging with employers to promote the employment of, and work placements for, Service Leavers within its broader employability policy framework and delivery infrastructure. Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
12Personal Development Plan - The Scottish Government, its agencies and Scottish Local Authorities should work with the UK Government to ensure that the new Personal Development Plan and related course modules are relevant to those settling in Scotland.Personal Development Plans have now been superseded by the concept of Lifelong Learning and Personnel Development Records. This recommendation will no longer be reported on.
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13Access to medical records - The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland should retain the current procedures whereby GPs in Scotland retrieve Service Leavers’ medical records but also keep them under review.
2021 Scottish Government Update
14Veterans and Families Research Institute - The Scottish Government should engage with the Veterans and Families Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University to help identify evidence needs and ensure research into transition in Scotland is also included in future programmes.
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Achieved in 2020

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

1MOD advice and briefings relevant to Scotland - The Scottish Government should continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that online advice and briefings reflect housing policy and provision in Scotland, so that Service Leavers choosing to settle in Scotland are not disadvantaged.
(This recommendation was pulled through from Recommendation 1 in the 2015 Transition Report.)
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Achieved in 2020
2Proving a “local connection” - The requirement to prove a “local connection” needs far better explanation in MOD, Scottish Government and Local Authority publications, including leaflets and websites, targeted at housing providers, veterans and Service personnel.
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Achieved in 2020
3Routes into social housing - If Scotland is to become the destination of choice for Service Leavers, then the Scottish Government and housing providers should give consideration to smoothing their route into social housing. Particular attention should be given to and removing any potential disadvantage caused by a lack of “local connection” brought about by military Service, both for those serving in Scotland and elsewhere.
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Achieved in 2020
4Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces - The Scottish Government should consider wider distribution of the Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces and work with MOD, public sector organisations and charities in Scotland to raise its profile, ensuring it appears on all Scottish Local Authority websites and on relevant UK Government websites.
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Achieved in 2020
5Review and Improve Housing Guide - The Scottish Government should review its Scottish Housing Guide for People Leaving the Armed Forces with the aim of improving content, visual impact and accessibility.
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Achieved in 2020
6Review Scottish Government Website Housing Information - The Scottish Government should review the information provided on its website relating to housing targeted at Service Leavers, veterans and their families in order to improve accessibility and currency.
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Achieved in 2020
7Consolidation Scottish Government information for veterans - The Scottish Government should consider placing all information for veterans and Service Leavers (not just information on housing) in one area like the mygov.scot website.
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Achieved in 2020
8Improve Local Authority website housing information - All Scottish Local Authorities should consider offering housing information for Service Leavers, veterans and their families on their websites with direct links from Housing home pages to improve accessibility.Now being pursued through the new outcomes-focused recommendations from 2021 Positive Futures Housing report,Last Scottish Government Update
9Provide guidance for frontline Local Authority staff - Local Authorities should consider providing additional guidance to their frontline staff on the principles of the Covenant and the council’s policy on housing support for veterans.Now being pursued through the new outcomes-focused recommendations from 2021 Positive Futures Housing report,Last Scottish Government Update
10Improve links between Local Authorities and MOD - The Scottish Government should work with Local Authorities and MOD to improve information-sharing in order that those leaving the Services are aware of the opportunities available in Scotland and Local Authorities are given advance notice of those expressing a wish to live in their area (also recommended in Transition in Scotland report).Now being pursued through the new outcomes-focused recommendations from 2021 Positive Futures Housing report,Last Scottish Government Update
11Consider promoting Shelter Scotland and ASAP Citizens Advice Scotland Websites - The Scottish Government and other housing information providers should consider taking a lead from Shelter Scotland and ASAP Citizens Advice Scotland when looking to upgrade their websites and generate a more extensive online presence, and should consider promoting these organisations’ websites more extensively.
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Achieved in 2020
12Ensure housing information is available to a wider audience - The Scottish Government and Veterans Scotland should work together with partners, including the UK Government and other parts of the Third sector, to ensure that housing information is easily visible on the Veterans UK and other pan-UK websites in order to reach a wider audience.
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Achieved in 2020

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

1Establish a Veterans Employability, Skills and Learning Working Group - The Scottish Government should establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee the activity required to fulfil the ambitions of more, and better, employment.
2021 Scottish Government Update
2Scottish Veterans Fund - The Scottish Government should support proposals that promote employability and increase job opportunities amongst the veterans community as the priority when allocating resources from the Scottish Veterans Fund.
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Achieved in 2020
3Address skills gaps - The Scottish Government to review how the veterans community could be most effectively utilised to fill the known skills gaps in key sectors like education, health, IT, engineering, construction, finance and insurance. In doing so, it should consider whether its recent initiative to attract former oil and gas workers into teaching in the North East of Scotland should be replicated for the veterans community. This recommendation should be considered by the Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) as one of its early priorities.
2021 Scottish Government Update
4Regional employability pilot - The Scottish Government should initiate and co-ordinate a regional employability pilot project, based in an area where there is a high military and veteran population. The purpose should be to deliver an increased number of meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for Service Leavers, veterans, and spouses and partners.
2021 Scottish Government Update
5Research and evaluation - The Scottish Government should commission research to provide analysis of the current baseline of the employment situation for the veterans community and to evaluate the impact of national and local initiatives to improve job prospects.
2021 Scottish Government Update
6Work placement scheme - The Scottish Government should work with employers - both small and large - to find ways of offering more placements to Service Leavers, veterans, spouses and partners. This should be in addition to those offered by Career Transition Partnership. Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
7Improving literacy and numeracy - The Career Transition Partnership (CTP), Local Authority community-based support services, colleges, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and charities should promote the benefits of improved literacy and numeracy skills amongst Service Leavers and veterans, directing them to appropriate community-based support, including the 'Big Plus' initiative. The aim should be to generate greater awareness amongst veterans with specific needs, their families and employers in order that learning opportunities can be accessed more readily.
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Achieved in 2020
8Recognition of qualifications and skills - The Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) should produce a plan for building understanding and recognition amongst Scottish employers (especially SMEs) of the skills and qualifications gained in the military. The Group should also consider whether the current system for translating and mapping qualifications could be simplified and how it might be better utilised and understood.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
9CTP and SDS to build on existing relationship - The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) should build on their existing relationship with the aim of ensuring Service Leavers and veterans have seamless access to SDS once their period of support from CTP comes to an end. This will be particularly important for Early Service Leavers and others in danger of ‘falling between the gaps’.
2021 Scottish Government Update
10Veterans attending college - Colleges Scotland to work with their members to engage the veterans sector more closely in order to promote the benefits of, and opportunities to participate in, college education. Ultimately the outcome should be an increase in numbers from the veterans community taking up college places.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
11Modern Apprenticeships - The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and Colleges Scotland should develop a plan to promote the Modern Apprenticeship programme to Early Service Leavers, veterans who would benefit from up-skilling or retraining, and spouses and partners.
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Achieved in 2020
12Sponsorship at college - The Scottish Government should work with employers to identify ways of supporting, and perhaps incentivising, sponsorship schemes that will allow a greater number of Service Leavers and veterans to undertake college studies in conjunction with full time employment.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
13Access Thresholds - In fulfilling the recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access, all universities should consider how access thresholds can be specifically applied to the veterans community. Subsequently, they should advertise and promote these thresholds widely across the military and veterans sectors.
2021 Scottish Government Update
14Articulation - The Scottish Funding Council, universities and colleges to specifically consider the veterans community as they embark on the expansion of articulation, as recommended by the Commission on Widening Access.
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Achieved in 2020
15Information about colleges and universities - The Scottish Funding Council should work with relevant organisations - including Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland and Student Awards Agency Scotland - to produce material designed specifically for the veterans community. This should include information about finance and the support available for those enrolling at college or university. Subsequently, this material should be made available widely amongst the serving and veterans communities, and those like CTP and SDS who support them.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
16Veterans Network/Champions in colleges and universities - Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland should work with their members and Veterans Scotland to establish a network of champions across all colleges and universities. The champions can provide the first point of contact for members of the ex-Service community applying for, or undertaking, further and higher education. They should also consider offering mentoring, advice on applications and funding, and be part of the wider champions’ network in Scotland.
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Achieved in 2020
17Parliamentary scrutiny of veterans issues - The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work should in due course report the progress made against implementing the recommendations in this report (and my two previous reports) to the Scottish Parliament. The aim should be to raise the profile of veterans issues amongst Parliamentarians and provide them with the information necessary to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s work in this field.
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Achieved in 2020
18Jobs within the Scottish Government - The Scottish Government to assess its current and future recruitment policies with a view to identifying opportunities to better target and support the veterans community in securing Scottish Government jobs. In doing so, it should consider Police Scotland’s approach of providing tailored information, personal support in completing applications, and advice in preparing for interviews. Mentoring from ex-Service personnel within the Civil Service is likely to play a crucial role.Progress will now be reported on in 2022 through recommendations in the Employment Skills and Learning - Positive Futures report.Last Scottish Government Update
19Jobs within NHS Scotland - NHS Scotland and individual Health Boards should develop and deliver commitments made at the last Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Group meeting to utilise the talents of the veterans community and provide better support and advice to those applying for jobs within the NHS.
2021 Scottish Government Update

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

1Establish "A Distinctive Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health" - The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should commit to establishing a distinctive Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health at a strategic level, accept or adapt the guiding principles of this approach and work with their partners to embed it at an operational level.
2021 Scottish Government Update
2Improving collaboration and partnership The Scottish Government should reinvigorate senior participation in cross-border networks with a view to improved information sharing and increased involvement in collaborative working and initiatives.
2021 Scottish Government Update
3Leadership and governance - The Armed Forces and Veterans Health Joint Group should refresh its membership and remit in order to provide the vital strategic leadership that will deliver the Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health.
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Achieved in 2020
4National Managed Clinical Network - The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should establish a network on veterans’ health. The network will have oversight of delivering the Scottish Approach to Veterans’ Health, and will consider the key issues raised in this report and others it deems relevant. It should reflect current structures in the health and social care sector in its membership and approach.
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Achieved in 2020
5Mental Health Action Plan - The Scottish Government and NHS(S), through the network on veterans’ health (see Recommendation 4), should produce a Mental Health Action Plan for the long-term delivery of services and support. Systemic issues of funding, collaboration, leadership, planning, governance and training of staff will be key.
2021 Scottish Government Update
6Drugs misuse - The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should assess the scale and nature of drugs misuse – especially prescription and non-prescription painkillers – amongst the veterans community in Scotland and introduce remedial measures. This should be taken forward by the Joint Group and network, and included as part of the Mental Health Action Plan.
2021 Scottish Government Update
7Barriers to accessing services -The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should build on existing work aimed at reducing barriers to veterans accessing mental health services. This will include measures to address issues of stigma, seeking help, and improving awareness and understanding within the medical profession. This should be taken forward by the Joint Group and network, and included as part of the Mental Health Action Plan.
2021 Scottish Government Update
8Access to life-long services - The Scottish Government, NHS(S), Health Boards and local Councils should 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. Health and Social Care Partnerships and Integrated Joint Boards will be instrumental in planning the delivery of these services and the national network recommended in chapter 2 should assume responsibility for oversight of this work as an early priority.
2021 Scottish Government Update
9Funding for multiple injuries - The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should give consideration to whether the costs of specialist care for veterans who have suffered polytrauma should be funded through the National Services Division (NSD).
2021 Scottish Government Update
10The National Trauma Network - NHS(S) should include the specific needs of veterans who have suffered polytrauma as part of its work in setting up a national Trauma Network.
2021 Scottish Government Update
11Wheelchairs for amputees - NHS(S) should adapt current arrangements to ensure an appropriate level of funding is available to guarantee that wheelchairs provided by the MOD for veterans with severe amputations can be serviced, maintained and replaced with the best possible equipment commensurate with that individual’s needs.
2021 Scottish Government Update
12Chronic pain management - The National Advisory Committee for Chronic Pain (NACCP) should consider veterans specifically as part of their work to improve chronic pain management in Scotland.
2021 Scottish Government Update
13Funding hearing - The Scottish Government and NHS(S) should make funding available so that veterans with the most severe hearing loss as a result of their military service can have access to the best possible hearing aids and support.
2021 Scottish Government Update
14The Invictus Games - The Scottish Government should work with partners, charities and others to scope a proposal to host a future Invictus Games in Scotland. This recommendation is considered to be no longer feasible.This recommendation is considered to be no longer feasible.
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15Tackling health inequalities - The Scottish Government, NHS(S) and partners should identify veterans as a distinct group in their work to tackle health inequalities. In doing so they should produce proposals for preventing or mitigating inequalities as they apply to this group, with the ultimate aim of improving health outcomes for all.
2021 Scottish Government Update
16Identifying veterans - The Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Health Group should oversee work to increase the number of veterans declaring their previous service to GPs and others in the system. This will likely involve NHS(S), MOD and veterans organisations.
2021 Scottish Government Update
17Using Information - The Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Health Group should oversee efforts to improve methods of recording, displaying and sharing information about veterans within the health and social care sector. This will be with a view to providing health professionals with the information needed to better understand and support veterans.
2021 Scottish Government Update
18Veterans Champions - The Scottish Government and Veterans Scotland should build on recent work to support the network of NHS and Council champions to develop the role so that it can continue to be effective in supporting the delivery of health and social care to veterans within the new health landscape of Scotland.
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Achieved in 2020