Calls For Armed Forces Covenant To Be At Centre Of Government
An influential select committee is calling for a new Ministerial post to be created, with responsibility for the Armed Forces Covenant.
There are calls for a new Ministerial post to be created, with responsibility for the Armed Forces Covenant.
The report by the Defence Select Committee on the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2016 also recommends a dedicated government unit to implement and deliver it.
The Covenant is a promise from the nation to treat service personnel and veterans fairly, when providing public and commercial services.
Areas such as healthcare, education, and accommodation have been outlined by the report as needing improvement.
Better communication and awareness of the priority services that exist for veterans in the NHS need to be fostered among clinicians and among veterans themselves.
The Government must continue to pursue measures which will embed the principles underlying the Covenant in the healthcare system.
Specifically on veterans’ mental health, the particular barriers to care that continue to exist must be removed and targets should be introduced to bring down delays in referral and treatment.
Education and local services
Mobile Service families are still encountering difficulties in securing school places for their children outside of the normal admissions cycle.
A thorough analysis of the capacity of local services to support increased numbers of Service personnel and their families must be undertaken.
A range of independent surveys and assessments suggest that Service personnel are still dissatisfied with their accommodation.
The Department should continue to consider its options with respect to the National Prime Contractor, CarillionAmey.
Lessons should be learned from the problems which accompanied the implementation of the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme.
Service personnel and their families are awaiting further announcements on the Future Accommodation Model with a sense of apprehension, so it is particularly important that the Department continues to consult and engage on this matter.
The Corporate Covenant and the Community Covenant
Both the Corporate and Community Covenants have great potential to develop the links between the Armed Forces Community and other sectors of society.
Greater engagement is necessary for the Department to develop a more reciprocal relationship with business and to ensure that an increasing number of local authorities have the core infrastructure necessary to implement the Covenant at a local level.
Dr Julian Lewis, Defence Committee chairman, said:
"The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the debt the country owes to those who serve in our Armed Forces. It ensures that both veterans and serving personnel receive the recognition and support they richly deserve. The Government is making good progress in meeting the Covenant’s obligations.
However, greater focus is needed on providing the housing, education and healthcare services the Armed Forces community rightly expects. For example, encouraging soldiers to buy their own homes, yet making them uneconomic to let when their owners are posted away from home, shows a lack of joined-up thinking. There also needs to be greater consistency of services and support across the UK.”