The Nuclear Community Charity Fund operates a Care Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund which serves to reduce suffering and increase wellbeing within the community of British Nuclear Test Veterans, their spouses and offspring. The fund is supported by grants made from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust under the Aged Veterans Fund.
The AVF funding was made as two distinct grants which have been termed Phase I and Phase II. Phase I completed and the fund entered Phase II. Improvements have been developed and deployed throughout the life of both phases.
The NCCF contracts BH Associates to design, develop and operate the processes necessary to deliver the funding successfully within the community.
As part of that delivery BH Associates conduct Impact Assessments relating to the activity and performance of the CWI Fund to ensure the charities aim of continual development is fully realised.
Between 2016 and 2020 the Care Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund has approved around 70% of applications submitted. In 2020 the approval rate was 10% higher than the success rate for the first year of the fund, this and many other improvements in the ability to deliver targeted grant support to the vulnerable members of the British Nuclear Community highlights how the NCCF continues to make that difference year by year.
Applications Processed Annually
The application rate fell in 2019 but increased significantly in 2020. Following from the Phase I support we believe that the majority of the ‘known’ community, with Care Wellbeing and Inclusion issues (CWI), had received assistance from the fund. This led to a natural decline in applications. The 2020 increase appears to have been driven by a number of factors; Covid impact on CWI and increased interaction with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association. This increase in applications also brought new challenges to manage them within the Covid restrictions.
Breakdown of Application Results and Average Spend
This is one of the key statistics that influences the future planning of the fund. “How many cases are we likely to need to fund in the coming year and what is the likely cost?” Knowing this informs budget setting and the variation of any application restrictions.
We can see that the fund has maintained a success rate of around 70% for applications. This means that 7 out of every 10 applications are supported.
The balance of ‘Rejections’ to ‘Withdrawls’ is important as it informs the manner in which unsuccessful applications have been managed. Rejections are applications that have been presented to a Grant Panel which the panel have identified reasons as to why the application can not be supported.
The reduction of rejections within the statistics shows that the preparation of applications is refining to fully explore individual situations. This enables presentation of all impacting factors to the Grant Panel informing their decision process.
There has been a 51% decrease in the current rejection rate over the rate achieved during Phase I. The figure for withdrawn applications was artificially increased during 2018/19 as we had adopted the practise of including form requests that did not result in applications.
The Phase I average and the 2020 figure record only those applications that have been withdrawn by the applicant following interaction with the Grant Team.
This can be a result of applications falling outside the scope of the full provision which when explained by the team result in acceptance by the applicant. On occasion, the Team was also able to obtain necessary support for applicants from other sources such as charities or local authorities. This means that not all the withdrawn applications leave applicants wanting.
On the financial side there has been a significant spend increase per grant in 2020. This can be attributed to a number of high cost grants and the impact of introducing Independent Living Assessments (ILA’s).
These ILA’s identify a broader range of measures addressing issues faced by applicants and generally provide more support to the beneficiary, of course, this comes at an increased cost, but one which better fulfills the charitable remit to reduce suffering.
Breakdown of Grants to Provision Area
Categorising grants in respect of the key areas they address provides an indication of the general support trends identified within the community. This informs the charity of the areas needing focus to support future development.
From the above we can see that there has been an increase in General Provisions. Further analysis indicates that the majority of this increase has been in relation to genuine cases of hardship resulting in applicants unable to fund the repair or replacement of household items essential to their basic health and hygiene.
The NCCF are now looking toward identifying common issues within this category so that investigation of the measures provided can be made to develop best practices and best value through contractual negotiations.
This kind of activity has resulted in the development of supply relationships with a number of organisations offering nationwide special services. The relationships not only ensure cost effectiveness but that the standard of work and support is maximised for beneficiaries.
As a longer term view on trends across support categories we have examined requirements between Phase I and Phase II. Again this confirms a sustained increase in General Provisions and also identifies an uplift in mobility support requirements. As a consideration for the future we suggest a review of the General Provision category with the aim of subdividing to garner meaningful figures across specific support measures.
Breakdown of Grants to Beneficiaries
This statistic is one we monitor to project the change in the nature of the beneficiary pool needs. As the veteran generation declines we see an increase in age related issues amongst the next generation and also an increase in widowed spouses.
Veterans continue to make the bulk of applicants but as the charity moves to providing more to the non-veteran element of the beneficiary pool it becomes less Ex-Service organisation with an increased general social responsibility.
One of the figures of interest is the ratio of male to female offspring requiring assistance. Other research made available to the NCCF indicates that there are considerably more congenital defects and serious health issues amongst the female offspring than the male.
This has not always been reflected in the numbers which have been assisted but looking to the longer-term figures we can see this trend emerging. Similarly, we see a clear increase in the assistance needed by the following generation. The 2020 figure for Grandchildren represents an increase of 158% over the fund average at the end of 2019.
The net result of these figures is to raise questions relating to the future provision of the fund and the statistics we gather to inform this. We suggest that breakdowns of the Grandchild applicants into gender and inclusion of Great-Grandchildren will assist. A breakdown of Measures Category to Beneficiary Group will also assist in targeting resources for the future.
Beneficiary Group Spend Distribution
This set of data was not collated under Phase I however the Phase II results assist in quantifying the severity of issues amongst the beneficiary pool and the cost trends.
Comparison of 2020 Share of Grants to Share of Expenditure
By considering the share of grants to the share of costs amongst the beneficiary groups we see an interesting trend developing whereby the value of grants made to veterans offspring is higher than to the veterans. This indicates that the measures identified by the offspring are more complex and costly than those identified for the elder generation.
The veterans certainly made a significant portion of the applications however the cost of addressing their needs is a huge difference to those of the younger generations. This is clearly illustrated in the Percent Error Factor figures.
In consideration of these figures it is helpful to examine some of the applications received from Grandchildren. These have been for very high cost provisions like Dental work and Care Support whilst provision for veterans and widows are often a mobility scooter or a rise recline chair reflecting lower expenditure.
Combine this data with the increase in General Provision expenditure and it would seem that there is a clear difference in need between the generations within the community. Further research may need to be conducted to define aspects and inform future planning.
Breakdown of Applications from UK Regions
Examination of this set of data reveals considerable variations across some of the regions which would not be expected when contrasting to the general UK population densities.
There is a marked difference between the East and West Midlands, we suspect this may date back to historic fragmentation of the nuclear community in the 1990’s which has resulted in a lasting disconnect of the West Midlands population from the central nuclear community charities.
We suggest that a statistical analysis on the NCCF beneficiary pool be conducted to contrast with these results and the UK regional population density figures. This should then indicate two broad categories for future action:
• Where the regional beneficiary pool is under the respective UK regional density then publicity in the regional media should be considered to try and increase the local beneficiary pool.
• Where the regional beneficiary pool equates with the regional population density but application levels are below the expected norm then internal NCCF publicity needs focussing on the regions beneficiaries to
publicise the help available.
Complexities of Resolution
These statistics relate to the improvement of the time it has taken from application submission to offer across the different provision categories.
The significant Improvements on the timescales for Medical and Inclusion are impacted by the reduction in application numbers for the categories, this has meant that management focus has been more definite. We have learned the right questions to ask of care providers and developed the appropriate contacts to progress cases.
The greatest concern from these figures is the negative improvement for general provision category applications. This is impacted by the diversity of requirements and in many cases the need to identify local tradesmen and obtain quotes for work to be completed. This can be increasingly time consuming and is something we have attempted to address by developing national supply contacts.
We anticipate 2021 will reveal a positive improvement in General Provisions and Daily Living Adaptations.
Application Processing Time Analysis
A major consideration of the charity during the past five years has been the time it takes to fully process an application. A delicate balancing act considering timescale, suffering identification, provision identification and charitable purpose obligations has to be conducted for every case.
The NCCF has encountered two occasions where a potential beneficiary has passed away before they have been able to render assistance. The trustees chose not to view this as an unfortunate event but as a tragic failure. The consequence of this was to harden the resolve of the charity to continue to improve its procedures and practises to reduce the time it takes to process applications within a safe accountable window.
The greatest achievement by the NCCF since undertaking the CWI Fund has been to drive the timescale of ‘Application to Decision’ down from an average of 88 days under Phase I to just
30 days in 2020.
This figure will improve even further because the 2020 figure was inflated by COVID restrictions preventing the timely delivery ILA’s as part of the pre-decision process.
One figure we have not quoted in this report is the time taken between the fund making an offer and the beneficiary signing the acceptance. This has remained fairly constant since the end of postal only offers during Phase I.
In Phase II we utilised the E-Sign system whenever we had internet communication ability with applicants. This reduced the acceptance lead time considerably. 2021 will see a further improvement to the system as we have now streamlined an email based acceptance system and are encouraging all applicants to make use of email communications to expedite their applications.
Improvement of Applications Processing Time
A key goal of the charity is continuous Improvement and nowhere more so than in the timescale of managing applications. Comparison of performance of 2020 over Phase I really highlights achievements in this area.
We can now get an application before a Grant Panel 56% faster than during Phase I. What is even more remarkable is that this is despite the covid impact.
The Application to Decision timescale has improved by an amazing 65.91%.
The charity is looking forward to even more improvement in this year with the impact of the new systems developed by BH Associates to automate Application form completion and creation of Grant Panel reports. Additionally BH Associates have now developed an IT solution to conducting and producing Independent Living Assessments which achieve increased effectiveness and a reduced timescale. All this plus increased discipline amongst Grant Panel members should result in 2021 being a landmark year for the performance of the Nuclear Community Charity Fund’s Care Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund.