What did the Nuclear Veterans get from the Aged Veterans Fund Grants?
Updated: May 18
In 2017 and 2018, the Nuclear Veterans in the UK received £6 million in grants to help the Nuclear Community and the Nuclear Community Charity Fund was established as a UK Charity to administer the funds.
John Baron had campaigned tirelessly for the Nuclear Veterans and was the patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association until 2018.
His website http://www.johnbaron.co.uk/testveterans.html lists his achievements.
He is now the patron of the NCCF and his efforts in supporting the BNTVA are appreciated by the Nuclear Community.
The main campaign for the Nuclear Veterans was a recognition campaign: The recognition campaign is the second of a two-phase process.
The first phase was to secure a Health Needs Audit, which was the initial priority of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association (BNTVA), given the age profile of the veterans. This was completed in 2011, and has led to the creation of a ‘veterans’ pathway’ through the NHS.
The second phase, launched in June 2013, was to secure official recognition of the veterans’ unique service, by means of:
A written or oral statement from the Prime Minister.
An ex gratia payment (thereby circumventing any liability) of £25m into a Charitable Fund for veterans and their descendants, access to which would be on the basis of need, not entitlement – thus illustrating that this is a campaign of recognition, not compensation.
The Veterans received the statement from the Prime Minister:
But what happened to the £25 million for the Test Veterans and their descendants?
Why did the Nuclear Community only receive £6 million, what happened to the other £19 million and why did the Nuclear Test Veterans not receive the full £25 million?
The Aged Veterans Fund has awarded grants to 10 organisations across the country to improve services such as access to healthcare:
£4 million went to PoppyScotland, to manage 14 projects under its Unforgotten Forces programme. It will provide improvements to homes and will aim to tackle loneliness and isolation through befriending, respite breaks and a newly-created day centre.
Age UK received £4.4 million for its Joining Forces scheme, which offers tailored support for older veterans, providing information and advice, practical support at home, access to social events, and digital technology.
£4.8 million was awarded to the Legion Healthy Living Portfolio, led by The Royal British Legion, to promote healthy living through local activities and the training of specialist staff.
The ten charities to receive the awards are Age UK, Poppyscotland, The Royal British Legion, the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Cornwall Rural Community Charity, Rural Action Yorkshire, St Johns and Red Cross Defence Medical Welfare Service, Age Cymru, Seafarers UK, and Hospice UK.
Since it was set up in 2015, the Aged Veterans Fund has received a total of £30 million of Libor funds - government fines on banks - to support older Veterans. It is designed to support non-core health, well being, and social care needs for older Veterans (born before 1 January 1950), including surviving Second World War Veterans, those who undertook National Service, and other voluntary enlisted veterans who may need some focused support in relation to their health and social care needs.
This final round of awards comes after the Aged Veterans Fund initially granted £6.6 million to eight organisations in 2016.
So the £25 million of Libor Funds, not government funds was split across the Veteran charities.The full list of the charities who received Libor funding in 2017 can be found here.
So did the government actually pay out any money to the Nuclear Veterans. The answer is No. They used an already well-established scheme (running since 2012) to finance the grants.
The Libor Charity Funding scheme, which has awarded £773m to primarily military and emergency services charities since 2012. The funds were collected from banks that were fined for manipulation of the level of Libor.
How did the Nuclear Community get the money?
The BNTVA (1131134) applied for the initial funding to the Aged Veterans Fund with every other Charity, this led to funding being awarded in 2 stages and the split of the BNTVA and the NCCF, who both setup new CIO Foundations and registered new charities, the BNTVA (1131134) charity is now dissolved and removed from the charity register.
It was not given, a lengthy application process was undertaken and no guarantees where provided that any of the money would be given to the Nuclear Community. The then Chairman of BNTVA Mr Jeff Liddiatt and ex-chairman Mr Nigel Heaps secured the funding and worked very hard to get the funding.
Various projects were outlined for the award of the grants:
Care Wellbeing & Inclusion Project
Nuclear Families Project
Psychiatric Programme (now part of the Care programme)
Centre for Health Effects or Radiological and Chemical Agents
Nuclear Test Online (Museum)
The main project which directly benefits the Nuclear Veterans is the Care, Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund.
NCCF CWI Fund. PO Box 8244, Castle Donington, DE74 2BY."
This fund is now means tested and no payments are made direct to Veterans. You can view the criteria through the exposure website.
So why are the Veterans not happy?
The £25 million was never delivered to the Nuclear Test Veterans, the UK Government did not allocate the money, the BNTVA had to apply for the grants, the money was not given directly. Other charities benefited from the £25 million as well as Nuclear Veteran organisations.
No Government funds were used, the funding came from the Libor Funds. Again the promises of MP’s and the Government never materialised. Only £6 million was delivered and only £1 million has been allocated to Care and Well-being and any Nuclear family who does not meet the means testing will be denied any funding. This is not an ex-gratia payment as per the Isle of Man payments.
The issue of the setup of a company by Mr Nigel Heaps MBE (ex-chairman of the BNTVA) is also one which concerns many Nuclear Veterans. Mr Heaps was involved heavily in the application of the grants and was the main contributor to the grant being awarded with Mr Jeff Liddiatt and Mr John Baron MP. Mr Heaps was a signatory on the application as an adviser to the board.
So what is his role now? Well his company (BH Associates) has received the contract to manage all projects and his company produces the Exposure magazine which is fully funded by the NCCF. He manages all publicity, the accounting functions, the IT, website, produces the Exposure Magazine and is a specialist adviser to the board.
What is his motivation for this? £400,000 in fees to manage the projects. Surely there is a conflict of interest, how can he provide these services and receive a fee when he signed the application and prepared it? Surely, he was writing a cheque for himself? Was there are 'special' agreement between these people? If there was, is this unfair to the other organisations who also applied?
Melloney Poole of the Aged Veterans Fund in an interview with Fissionline stated that she was satisfied that BH Associates would manage the projects and that he would have no influence in the day to day running of the NCCF. If he is providing these services and is a specialist adviser, how is he not influencing the Charity?
Mr Heaps is also involved with AVEN and OBSIVEN in France who have articles published in the Exposure Magazine at no cost.
Care, Wellbeing & Inclusion and Help to Veterans
Hundreds of Veterans have been helped by the NCCF, the main number of Veterans who have been helped were helped to attend the BNTVA Annual Conference and the All Tests Reunion in 2016. Accommodation was paid for in full. This accounts for over 200 of the Veterans.
Other people have received house adaptations and small grants (cookers, washing machines etc) and the fund has been very successful to those who have received help. But the grants to help Veterans attend the events and conferences have been stopped and there is no longer a provision to help for these events en-mass. Veterans again have to prove their wealth before they can be helped.
Their website page for events which can be viewed here, states the following:
"Please note this application gateway has been suspended for 2018 – If you have a hardship situation relating to attending a nuclear community event please contact the NCCF to discuss any potential way we may be able to help."
We are halfway through 2019 and the website has not been updated.
So why did they agree to fund it for one year and not any subsequent years. Is it because they needed to show that they were helping Veterans in order to get Phase II of the money and now that they have it, they have withdrawn the help?
With an investment policy to provide help and support for 15 years, should more Veterans be helped now? Bear in mind that in 15 years, we will have very few Veterans left (if any), it will be descendants who will be applying. The AVF was designed to support non-core health, well being, and social care needs for older Veterans (born before 1 January 1950), so why are Veterans being denied grants now?
Two remembrance stones have been updated and unveiled in 2018, with many more to come. Why was their a need for this project when there is already a charity specialising in War memorials, The War Memorials Trust, their website can be viewed here. Was this funding necessary?
A new magazine 'Exposure Press' was designed to include information from across the world. The BNTVA were originally part of this magazine, but decided to keep their singular identity.
Members of the BNTVA were written to by the NCCF and asked to sign up for the publication, they received letters in May 2018, informing them that if they did not subscribe, then they would not receive anymore correspondence from the NCCF, but as no-one subscribed, they continued to mail them, despite re-assurances from the then Chairman Mr Jeff Liddiatt that they would not be mailed again.
The Magazine has good articles and is very well produced, but what purpose does it serve? Fissionline provides fantastic articles, the BNTVA Campaign magazine updates members on the events from the remembrance project, so is it worth the cost of production?
Centre for Health Effects or Radiological and Chemical Agents
The study being performed by the teams at Brunel University is essential to the campaigns of the Nuclear Community across the world, if this study produces the same results as the Massey Study, then Governments cannot deny the genetic damage.
The question is, why should a charity using government money (from the Libor funds) pay for the study. Why should over £2 million be used in this way? Some Veterans are very angry that this study is being funded by money which should be paid direct to the Veterans in compensation. Others are worried about the results as it is a Government funded project.
All announcements from the project are going through the Exposure Press magazine and are tightly controlled. So unless you have internet access, you must sign up to the Exposure magazine to get updates.
At the BNTVA conference in May 2018, the Chairman Mr Alan Owen, presented a new memorial on Christmas Island which was unveiled by a party of veterans who attended the island and was paid for by the ABF - The Soldier's Charity and the NCCF did not contribute to the project as it was a memorial overseas and they do not fund any activity overseas.
Yet the NCCF paid for Veterans to attend the Rekindling of the Flame where Mr Liddiatt was guest of honour, they contributed to Mr Owen's trip to the National Association of Atomic Veterans in the USA. They have paid for BH Associates and trustees to attend the AVEN conference in France on numerous occasions.
So if they can fund these trips, why not fund the memorial project on Christmas Island and help the Veterans to attend.
The final accounts for the year ended 31 March 2018 have been published on the Charity Commission which you can view here
Within the accounts, their Charitable Activities are listed:
In their first year of operating as the NCCF and not under the BNTVA 1131134, they gave direct grants to beneficiaries of £47,146. A very small percentage of the £6 million that they were awarded. The project expenditure is not broken down and it is unsure who they gave the £1,000 in donations to.
From the accounts, the Veterans do not seem to be receiving the main share of the Fund.
Mr Tony Jeffrey, the Chairman of the NCCF was contacted for comments on the accounts, but at the time of publishing this article, he has not responded.
The NCCF is delivering it's projects, but many questions remain regarding the setup of the Charity:
How BH Associates were awarded the contract? How can a Chairman, resign from a Charity, become a specialist adviser, sign the application form and then be paid £400,000 to run the projects?
Why was funding diverted for the benefit of the Chairman to attend events and then denied for a memorial and now future events?
Why were these projects chosen by Mr Liddiatt and Mr Heaps? The members were not consulted on what they wanted.
Why invest the money for 15 years and means test the grants? Help the Veterans now whilst they are still alive and meet the AVF criteria.
There is no doubt that the Nuclear Families project and the Cytogentic Study are desperately needed by the Nuclear Veterans, but as for the other projects, you can make up your own mind.
Mr Owen (Chairman BNTVA) was contacted to comment on the current relationship between the NCCF and the BNTVA (1173575) but due to legal issues, was unable to make any comments.
So did the government give the Nuclear Veterans special consideration when allocating the money and paid it direct to the BNTVA (1131134), the answer is NO they did not as they were eligible to apply for funding since the start of the Libor Funding Scheme in 2012.
At present the main beneficiary of the fund are the directors of BH Associates who have received the most money from the fund of any individuals.