About the Armed Forces Covenant
The origins of the Armed Forces Covenant in the UK can be traced back to Elizabeth I and the Earl of Dudley. The Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick is an example and has supported veterans from then and continues to this present day.
More recently the Armed Forces Covenant was incorporated into the Armed Forces Act 2011. This requires a report to be placed before Parliament, annually, on the progress being made to implement the Covenant. In the Queen’s Speech of 2019, Government indicated they will further incorporate the covenant into law within the next Parliament to mitigate any disadvantage faced by the Armed Forces community due to the unique nature of military service.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.
Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether Regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.
This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes statutory, voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces.
The issue the Covenant is addressing is the fair and equal access to goods, services, information and support whether from statutory, voluntary or commercial organisations. This means:
ensuring that service personnel, ex-service personnel and their families are NOT disadvantaged through military service
ensuring a level playing field so that there is equal access to any form of service or support or information
special consideration is given on a case by case basis and is at the discretion of the organisation providing it.
The purpose of the Armed Forces Covenant is to put the individual (or family) in a position comparable to that of an equivalent citizen (or family) that is not in the Armed Forces. This is about bringing the Armed Forces individual/family up to the level of the ordinary citizen rather than getting them beyond what an ordinary citizen may be entitled to. There is no special treatment apart from the support to reduce any disadvantage members of the Armed Forces and their families may experience.
The Armed Forces Covenant does not confer a legal right to the provision of services and support over and above what is the legal right and entitlement of an ordinary citizen.
Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.
Special consideration is proportionate and related to the sacrifice the individual or family have made. This is discretionary and provided by the organisation to which the request for special consideration is made on a case by case basis. It does not confer any right or entitlement; it can only be asked for and not enforced.