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1. The Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation that no current or former member of the Armed Forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.

A copy of the Armed Forces Covenant can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Further information about the Armed Forces Covenant can be found on the Armed Forces Covenant website.

The Armed Forces Community is made up of:

  • The Royal Navy / Royal Marines
  • The Army
  • The Royal Air Force
  • Reservists
  • Families of those who serve, including spouses/ partners and children

The Armed Forces Act 2021

The Armed Forces Act 2021 enshrines the Armed Forces Covenant into law and places a legal obligation on public bodies (including local authorities, schools and other public organisations such as NHS England) to pay ‘due regard’ to the principles of the Covenant when delivering services in relation to housing, healthcare and education.

The article, The New Armed Forces Covenant Duty: What organisations in scope will need to know on the Armed Forces Covenant website provides an overview of the new Duty and what this means in practice. As a summary: organisations in scope of the Duty will need to consciously consider the three principles of the Covenant which are; the unique obligations and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces Community; that is desirable to remove disadvantages faced by the Armed Forces community; and that special provision may be justified in some circumstances.

The new Duty aims to raise awareness of how Service life can impact members of the Armed Forces Community when accessing certain services, which in turn will lead to more informed policymaking as organisations better understand the uniqueness of Service life and how disadvantage can arise when accessing services.

The Ministry of Defence has also produce draft guidance to help public bodies in scope understand and comply with the new Covenant Duty.

Living in our shoes: understanding the needs of UK Armed Forces families

In 2019 Andrew Selous MP was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to conduct an independent review to consider the diverse needs of Service families.

Key themes arose from the review as detrimental to modern family life and relationships including; mobility, deployment, health and wellbeing and the impact of Service life on Military children.

The majority of Service parents spoken to during the review raised concerns about the effect their lifestyle has on their children, particularly on their education. Parents raised concerns about the frequency of school moves and the disruption this can have on their child’s education. They also noted the variations in support available from school to school, with those schools with higher numbers of Service pupils more likely to understand their needs and challenges.

The review outlines 110 recommendations for change with the highest number of recommendations in relation to the impact of Service life on Military children. Most recommendations outlined within the view are actions for the Ministry of Defence and the Services, although some have implications for other government departments, local authorities and a range of organisations within the statutory, private and charitable sector.

The Armed Forces Covenant and the Armed Forces Family Strategy 2022 to 2032 are seen as key for taking these recommendations forward.


Last Updated 19/10/2022

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