The Prime Minister has this evening hosted the first of what will now be an annual Armed Forces charities reception at 10 Downing Street. At the event he announced funding awards for 23 charities - totaling £9.2 million - and welcomed representatives from the first 50 companies to sign up to the government’s Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.
Since the Chancellor announced in October 2012 that £35 million of funds from fines imposed on the banking industry would be used to benefit the Armed Forces community, £13.5 million has been awarded to military charities. Tonight, by announcing a further £9.2 million, the Prime Minister has taken the funds to be shared between 72 charities to £22.7 million, including £2.7 million for the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds Programme.
Other charities to benefit include:
- The Felix Fund - £85,000 to provide ‘normalisation’ breaks for Advanced Search teams returning from Afghanistan
- The Royal Marines - £2.3 million to provide a Families and Veterans Centre
- RAF Benson Community Primary School - £50,000 to improve the environment at this school where almost all pupils are children of service personnel
- Gardening Leave in Dundee - £73,000 for Horticultural Therapy for serving personnel and veterans
The Prime Minister also used the occasion to thank the first 50 companies to sign up to the flagship Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. The Covenant was enshrined in law in 2011 to set in stone the moral obligation owed to the Armed Forces by government and the nation. The Corporate Covenant was announced in June this year, allowing businesses to sign up and show what they can do for our Forces.
The response from businesses around the UK has been impressive with commitments including:
- Barclays agreeing to provide free calls for serving customers so they don’t have to use their welfare minutes to phone their bank
- National Express - the UKs largest coach operator - offering the Forces community a discount of 60% off all standard coach fares via the
Defence Discount Scheme and a guaranteed interview scheme for eligible service leavers
- Virgin Media freezing accounts of serving personnel for up to 8 months while they are serving overseas
- The AA also freezing accounts for personnel serving overseas and offering discounted membership to all serving personnel
Speaking at the event the Prime Minister said:
I am immensely proud to be in a room full of people this evening who are supporting our Armed Forces community. It is fantastic that so many Armed Forces charities have now been able to benefit from fines from the banking industry – it is right that this money should be used to benefit the Forces community and I am pleased to be announcing a further £9 million of funding tonight.
It is also important that we have representatives from a great cross section of the 50 companies that have signed up to the Corporate Covenant here this evening. The whole nation owes a moral obligation to our troops and these companies are leading the way by making respect and support for the Armed Forces a part of everything they do. This is the first annual Armed Forces charities reception and I look forward to having as much to celebrate next year.
Defence Minister Anna Soubry said:
I am extremely pleased that so many companies have shown their support for the Armed Forces by signing up to the Corporate Covenant. Our Armed Forces and their families give everything to our country so it is only right that society, including businesses, recognise their tremendous contribution and sacrifice. Some of the UK’s leading businesses and employers from across the country have come up with excellent offers, and I hope that many more will be spurred on to get behind the Corporate Covenant in any way they can.
Holly Davies, Chief Executive of the Felix Fund said:
Thanks to The Armed Forces Covenant, Felix Fund can help another 120 bomb disposal experts re-adjust after exhausting and potentially traumatic tours of Afghanistan. Previously we could only reunite four-man EOD teams on our therapeutic ‘Normalisation breaks’. We now have the funds to include the Advanced Searchers, Dog Handlers and forensics personnel that make up the complete Brimstone counter-IED call sign. The two grants from the Libor Fund have been invaluable.