Armed Forces Covenant
“The Armed Forces Covenant is a potentially powerful tool in tackling the disadvantages that the Armed Forces community sometimes face. AFF uses the Covenant as part of its day-to-day work as we support families to resolve issues and lobby for change.”
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
It covers two key principles:
- The Armed Forces community should face no disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to other citizens.
- Special consideration should be given when required, such as to the injured or the bereaved.
All local authorities in mainland UK and nearly 800 companies have now signed the Covenant, including AFF in our capacity as an employer.
To see the list of companies, click here.
Watch an explanation of the Armed Forces Covenant in 60 seconds.
The Covenant applies to all members of the Armed Forces community, wherever you live.
It is interpreted in different ways locally depending on local needs, including in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, this means there is no standard delivery model, which can be frustrating as families’ experiences of the Covenant vary.
The Covenant provides support in a number of key areas for Army families including:
- Spouse employment
- Health and social care
- Money, and
- Access to commercial products and services.
It also aims to help Reserves and Service leavers too, offering support with maintaining or changing your career.
For the most up-to-date changes that the Covenant has affected, read the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report.
As part of our core work, AFF collects families’ issues. This evidence is used to open up discussions with policy makers in central and local government, and with private companies, about things that AFF believes should be changed.
We also work with Defence Relationship Management (DRM), the part of MOD responsible for recruiting corporate Covenant signatories and helping them live up to the commitments they have made.
Some examples of how AFF has used the Covenant as a lever for change are:
- Changes to the Schools Admission Code in England to make it easier for mobile Army families to apply for school places.
- An extension to the circumstances in which Service Family Accommodation may be retained.
- The exemption of Army families from the three-month residence rule that applies to anyone wanting to apply for Job Seekers’ Allowance who has arrived in the UK for the first time or is returning after a period of being abroad.
- The main mobile phone providers in the UK have amended their policies so that family members can now suspend their contract for up to two years while they are overseas.
Although not a legal document, the Secretary of State for Defence is required by law to present an annual report on the Covenant to Parliament each year.
Other groups committed to the Covenant include:
- Central and local government
- The Armed Forces
- Charities, and
- Local communities
In 2015, a new Covenant Fund was launched to support the delivery of the Covenant principles. The Fund is available twice a year and applicants can bid for a ‘small grant’ worth up to £20,000 or for a ‘large grant’ worth up to £300,000. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/covenant-fund
- In England: our Regional Managers Central and South or your local co-ordinator will be able to help you.
- Devolved Administrations: please contact AFF’s Regional Manager North.
- Overseas: please contact our UK and Overseas Director, Julie Lowe.
If you are experiencing disadvantage when trying to access commercial products or services, please contact AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances & Money (ETAM) Specialist, Laura Lewin.
For more information about the Covenant, visit www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk
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