Armed forces covenant
The armed forces covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the armed forces. It recognises that the whole nation, has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.
It’s not just a piece of paper
The armed forces covenant was published in May 2011 along with a document called ‘Today and Tomorrow’ which lists the nearly 100 real, tangible commitments the government has made to the armed forces community. Both can be found on the armed forces covenant: guidance and actions page.
The armed forces covenant itself is not a legal document but its key principles have been enshrined in law in the Armed Forces Act 2011. The legislation obliges the Defence Secretary to report annually on progress made by the government in honouring the covenant.
We are running a series of short surveys to understand the ways in which the Armed Forces community face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services. Our first survey focused on insurance. The first survey is now closed.
It’s about local communities
The covenant is not just about the government delivering commitments on a national level. More than 100 local communities have signed a community covenant.
It is a voluntary statement of mutual support between civilians and the armed forces in their area to encourage mutual understanding and to bring the two communities together. Alongside it we run the Community Covenant Grant Scheme, set up to fund projects that support its aims.
It is also supported by the corporate covenant which is a public pledge from businesses and other organisations who wish to demonstrate their support for the armed forces community.
In February 2013, the importance of the covenant was highlighted by the decision of the Chancellor to transfer £35 million from fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate LIBOR to the MOD for use in supporting the armed forces community. Over 3 tranches, the fund has supported 96 charities and good causes. Visit our ‘LIBOR fund: successful projects’ page to find out more.
In 2013, the Chancellor announced that up to £100 million would be made available to support service and other charities. £40 million of the announced £100 million has been allocated to support projects which provide veterans accommodation. Visit the Veterans accommodation fund for full details
It’s about fair treatment
For most of the armed forces community, the covenant is about removing disadvantage so that you get the same outcome as the civilian community.
For example, if you and your family are posted somewhere new, you shouldn’t struggle to get your child into a local school. We have made sure that doesn’t happen by letting schools go over their maximum class size to fit in a child of service personnel. Visit: Armed forces covenant: admissions to schools in England to find out more.
It’s about special consideration
It’s not about getting special treatment that ordinary citizens wouldn’t receive, or getting a better result. For those that have given the most, such as the injured and the bereaved, we do make an exception.
For example, we’ve made sure that service personnel with genital injuries are guaranteed three cycles of IVF on the NHS and we’ve established a scholarship fund for bereaved children of service personnel.
A huge number of positive changes have been made since May 2011, but sometimes you might not recognise them as covenant commitments.
Visit: ‘What the covenant means to you’ to find out how the covenant has helped the armed forces community and what commitments we are working on.