You may remember that in 2019 we successfully called on Boris Johnson to show his commitment to veterans and their families by pledging to fulfil the ‘Veterans Pledge’ upon entering Number 10 Downing Street. This included a promise to Enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law, to ensure that it actually benefits all members of the Armed Forces Community and to strengthen measures against those who disregard it.
The Government’s aim is to build on what the Covenant has achieved to date by providing a legal basis for the principle that Serving Personnel, Veterans, and their families should not be disadvantaged as a result of their military service. This is a really positive aim and one we fully support.
Throughout 2020, we therefore worked with the MOD and others in the Service Charity Sector to develop the legislation and ensure it benefited those we support.
However, we are disappointed that under current plans, these new powers do not extend far enough and only apply to a limited range of areas, which include education, housing and healthcare. We are calling for the Bill to be expanded to ensure all levels of government are accountable on all the issues that are covered by the Covenant and which matter to our Armed Forces community.
We will now aim to work constructively with the Government to realise this aim of truly delivering on behalf of those who have served our country.
Joint statement from Help for Heroes CEO, Melanie Waters, and Director General of The Royal British Legion, Charles Byrne:
“There is no doubt that the Armed Forces Covenant has delivered real progress for veterans, serving personnel and their families. Whilst the Armed Forces Bill provides a rare opportunity to cement elements of the Covenant into law, the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes are united in our belief that the Bill needs to go further to enable the Covenant to truly deliver on behalf of those who have served our country.
“Under current plans for the Armed Forces Bill, new powers will only apply to a limited range of topics and public bodies. We are calling for the Bill to be expanded to ensure all levels of government are accountable on all the issues that are covered by the Covenant and which matter to our Armed Forces community.”