The news comes after a record breaking year for the Armed Forces Covenant with more employers signing up in a single year than ever before.
O2 is the latest employer to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, bringing the total number of signatories up to 2,000. Today, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and O2’s CEO Mark Evans co-signed the Covenant at a ceremony in London. The Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2017 by the Ministry of Defence was also published today, looking back at the achievements of this year.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve or who have served, and their families, which says we will do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.
Among O2’s pledges of support for members of the Armed Forces and their families, O2 is offering paid leave for Reservists to complete their annual training as well as suspension of their mobile phone contracts in the event of deployment.
As part of their pledge to support Veterans and Cadets, O2 are offering them access to their WAYRA initiative. WAYRA is a world-leading start-up accelerator programme which takes between nine and 12 entrepreneurs for a nine month period in London, Oldham, and Birmingham to develop their business ideas.
By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, O2 joins large and small organisations across the country who are helping to ensure that current and ex-Forces personnel and their families get a fair deal when accessing goods and services as well as equal opportunity when transitioning to civilian jobs.
Welcoming the signing, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
We deeply value those who courageously serve our country with great pride and dedication. This landmark signing of the Armed Forces Covenant demonstrates our continued commitment to them. O2 championing our service personnel reflects the real value Reservists and Veterans can bring to business. I hope their pledge today will encourage others to sign up.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood:
Britain prides itself on the professionalism of our Armed Forces, who are the best in the world. The transferrable skills they take into civilian life are phenomenal. They are natural leaders, can work in a team, are disciplined, reliable, committed, brave and extremely well trained. These attributes are not lost when veterans hand in their uniform for the last time, and I would encourage any organisation to reflect on the value veterans can bring to their business.
Since 2013, the number of employers turning their pledges into positive initiatives for the Forces through the Armed Forces Covenant has doubled every year. The Covenant has leveraged growing support from companies in many sectors such as education, manufacturing, construction, arts, entertainment, and recreation, to name but a few. From supermarkets to banks to football clubs and charities, the Covenant is also attracting wide support from companies of all sizes.
The achievements of the Armed Forces Covenant over the last twelve months are set out in the 2017 annual report and include:
Fairer mobile phone contracts, freezing the accounts of Armed Forces personnel and their families posted overseas and removing cancellation fees
Better deals in motor insurance, allowing personnel to keep their no claims bonuses and avoid cancellation fees when posted overseas at short notice
Better access to banking, such as savings accounts to Service families posted overseas
Tackling commercial disadvantage previously experienced by the Armed Forces community in relation to credit rating and access to mortgages on offer, allowing Service personnel posted overseas or in the UK to rent out their homes without having to switch to a ‘buy to let’ mortgage and incurring additional fees.
Over 12,800 payments and £193 million advanced to Service Personnel through the Forces Help To Buy scheme, helping the Armed Forces community get on the property ladder
Committing over £22.5 million of Service Pupil Premium funding to benefit over 75,000 eligible pupils from Armed Forces families in primary and secondary schools.
Employer networks in a wide range of sectors to support Service leavers through their transition to new careers.
Better access to mentoring, work placements and employment opportunities for personnel leaving the Services
Increased funding and sponsorship of military charities and sports events such as the Invictus Games
Flexible paid or unpaid leave for mobilised Reservists
Employment support for Veterans, Reservists, Service spouses and partners, as well as support for Cadets
Discounts and special deals for individuals and their families
The Armed Forces Covenant delivery partners include businesses and trade bodies, charities and community organisations, local authorities and government departments. Signatories tailor their own pledges to support the Armed Forces community and implement these promises through their choice of policies, services, and projects.