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The Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2018

Statement made on 21 November 2018

Statement UIN HCWS1094


I am today laying before Parliament the Armed Forces Covenant annual report 2018. This is the seventh report since the Armed Forces Act 2011 established the Armed Forces Covenant and set out the requirement for the Defence Secretary to report progress annually to Parliament. The Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve, or have served, and their families are treated fairly and suffer no disadvantage. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured or the bereaved. The sacrifices made by serving personnel, veterans and their families should be recognised accordingly.

I am proud to present this report to Parliament, describing what the Government has done to uphold the principles of the Covenant. In the context of the 100 year anniversary of the Armistice, it is particularly important to consider the role of the Armed Forces in society today. Following the recent launch of the “Strategy for our Veterans” (Cm 9726) and the consultation paper (Cm 9727), the annual report focuses on serving personnel and families, explaining how we provide support to the whole of the Armed Forces community. The theme of Delivering Effective Support acknowledges the nation’s improving understanding of not just the needs of the Armed Forces community, but also how we can support them to make best use of the diverse skills and experiences that they offer wider society. While we are now better placed to measure our progress in delivering the Covenant and mitigating disadvantage to the Armed Forces community, we know there is much more still to be achieved, particularly in ensuring consistency of outcomes.

The report covers progress on healthcare, education, accommodation, inquests, family life, through-life support, and business and community. Key highlights of this year’s report include: the expansion of the Department for Education’s Common Transfer File to capture more contextual information on Service children from September 2018; the publication of guidance to ease the impact on serving personnel and families moving between administrations; the announcement of the 3,000th signatory to the Covenant; the relocation of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre to a new purpose-built facility at Stanford Hall; and the launch of NHS England’s Veterans Mental Health Complex Treatment Service.

The report also explains the creation of the independent Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust as an independent charity, to manage the £10 million per annum Covenant Fund. The new status will allow a more flexible approach to grant-making.

The report has been compiled in consultation with other Government Departments, the devolved Governments in Wales and Scotland, and with key stakeholders in Northern Ireland. The external members of the Covenant Reference Group, which includes the three Service Families Federations, the Confederation of Service Charities, the Royal British Legion, SSAFA, the War Widows Association and Professor Hew Strachan, have also been consulted.

Statement from

Ministry of Defence