Report of the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Welfare Programmes
Brigadier John King MBE - 2018

Thankfully during 2018 natural disasters had less of an impact on our veterans and widows than those during 2017. During the year we saw with satisfaction the conclusion of our charitable support to those veterans and widows in Dominica we helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Approximately £58K was disbursed on behalf of RCEL, TRBL, ABF The Soldiers' Charity and Royal Engineers. Once again, due to careful financial management I am able to report the level of financial assistance given to our veterans and widows has continued to increase either though SCOWP grants to beneficiaries or financial assistance to our Member Organisations.

Inevitably though, as in previous years, the number of veterans and widows assisted has reduced, in 2018 to 7664 from 8,534 in the previous year, a reduction of 11%. Our global welfare distribution exceeded £3.06M from RCEL's own funds and those of other Founder RCEL Members and UK Service Charities to 46 Member Organisations. This sum included 796 grant payments totalling over £757K on behalf of some 40 UK based charities  as Agency work.

The Royal Canadian Legion is gratefully acknowledged for its generosity in 2018, contributing over £142,305 of welfare support to Member Organisations in the Caribbean; without this generous support our welfare grants elsewhere would be greatly diminished. Other Founder Members also contributed significantly with The Returned & Services League of Australia and The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association assisting a number of beneficiaries throughout their countries.

Welfare tours made by RCEL staff to Member Organisations and veterans and widows are key to the success of RCEL work. Staff are able to witness first-hand the good effect of grant monies to our veterans and widows and increasingly important to ensure Member Organisation good governance. This oversight by RCEL of Member Organisation compliance is now mandatory to ensure delivery of the DFID welfare funds over the next five years. During the year Welfare visits were made to Burma, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Belize, Jamaica and Dominica.

Elsewhere in this report you will read about the Secretary General's welfare tour to Burma during January. During this trip he was accompanied by Miss Katherine Peacock of Mazars to carry out an independent audit on RCEL operations and welfare distribution, a necessary step for RCEL to meet DFIDs due-diligence checks to secure funding of this exciting welfare visits the tour also proved the good governance of RCEL and our partners in delivering financial assistance to beneficiaries in Burna.

In October, Controller Welfare visited Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. In Mauritius, he visited The Mauritius Ex- Services Trust Fund and veterans and widows who receive welfare payments. In the Seychelles, Controller Welfare visited The Seychelles Ex-Servicemen Fund (SESF) and several veterans and widows now in their 90s in their homes.

In Sri Lanka, pre-independence veteran numbers have declined to 319, all of whom receive welfare grants as veterans and widows receive no Government pensions. Controller Welfare saw the impressive work of the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen's Association, giving reassurance our beneficiaries are well cared for which justifies providing support.

During November, Controller Finance visited veterans and widows in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. In all countries the DFID welfare programme was discussed. In Kenya the professionalism of the working relationship between British Legion (Kenya) and DEFOCA was noted. In Zimbabwe, the excellent work of ZANE was seen though visits to three ZANE-partner care homes to meet veterans and widows. The work carried out by ZANE on behalf of RCEL is exemplary with beneficiaries very gracious with their comments on the ZANE/RCEL cooperation. Post-visit a further 40 veterans and widows were verified as qualifying for Welfare Grants. As a result, £12.5K was provided out of SCOWP Reserve for their benefit.

In addition, as part of our Agency work a total of over £255,590 was provided through ZANE on behalf of the Officers' Association, ABF The Soldiers' Charity, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Royal Navy Benevolent Trust, Burma Star Association, Women's Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust and many other Regimental Associations.

Our disbursement of grants from Blind Veterans UK (BV UK) continues. Some 210 are now supported, down from 236 in 2017, but this £120 annual grant is highly valued by beneficiaries. The continued BV UK support is gratefully acknowledged.

2019 is the final year of the 5-year LIBOR grant, but 2019 will see the start of the DFID programme delivering, over five years, almost £12M to needy pre-independence veterans and widows throughout the Commonwealth. For many of our 7,600 beneficiaries the grants, calculated on the cost of two meals a day in their country will mean a very significant increase in welfare, a huge leap in RCEL's welfare delivery over the previous aim of one meal a day.

In 2018 the membership of the Standing Committee on Welfare Programmes was as follows:-

Brigadier JCL (John) King MBE Chairman

Brigadier AW (Andrew) Freemantle CBE DBA Australia (Exec Com Member)

Mr B (Brian) Watkins CMG Canada (Exec Com Member)

Mr T (Terry) Whittles (National Chairman TRBL)

Mr A (Antony) Baines (Director of Operations TRBL)

Colonel AJ (Andrew) Martin ONZM New Zealand (Exec Com Member)

Major General CH (Christopher) Elliott CVO CBE South Africa (Exec Com Member)

Mr C (Charlie) Brown (National Chairman Legion Scotland)

Mr JM (Jeremy) Archer Honorary Treasurer RCEL

Major General DS (David) Jolliffe CB FRCP Honorary Medical Adviser

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