Armed Forces Community is missing out: next government must do more says Royal British Legion

  • Thousands of UK service personnel and veterans are missing out on the support they are entitled to because the promise of the Armed Forces Covenant is not being met.
  • The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland’s 2024 General Election Manifesto calls on the next government to take meaningful steps towards fulfilling its duty to those who have given so much in service to our nation.

The British Armed Forces put everything on the line for their country, yet service personnel and veterans can still face a battle to access the support and services they deserve, says the Royal British Legion (RBL).

The charity, which has launched its 2024 General Election Manifesto* with Poppyscotland, is calling on the next government to put the needs of serving personnel and veterans at the heart of its agenda, to remove some of the challenges they face and improve their lives.

Through its day-to-day work supporting the Armed Forces community, the RBL is concerned that the promise of the 2011 Armed Forces Covenant is not being met across a range of public services.

Military personnel are reporting their service is working against them and that they are missing out on the support they are entitled to, highlighting a break in the Covenant promise that no one who serves should face disadvantage.

For those denied support from the system, many members of the Armed Forces community are turning to military charities, such as the RBL, for a lifeline instead. The charity is seeing people at their lowest ebb, at risk of homelessness, and in dire financial situations where they can’t afford to feed their families.

Royal British Legion Director General, Mark Atkinson said:

“Our manifesto provides a roadmap for building a brighter future for serving personnel, veterans, and their families across the United Kingdom.

“We know political parties care deeply about the many challenges the Armed Forces community face and will do whatever it takes to remove them.

“That’s why we are asking them to incorporate our five asks into their General Election Manifestos. We want to send a clear message to the estimated 2.1 million veterans in the UK, that their service matters and will not count against them.”

Army veteran, David**, contacted the RBL for support when his local council treated his war pension as income, resulting in an unexpected £2,500 council tax bill. He said:

“These local authorities have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging military service won’t disadvantage anyone. Yet, the lack of understanding and support from the council, caused huge distress for me and my wife.”

The RBL’s Manifesto calls for strengthening and widening of the Covenant’s scope, believing it will be key to ensuring the needs of the Armed Forces community are better served and their contribution properly valued.

The charity is also calling on the next government to remove barriers for non-UK service personnel and their families, ensuring that military compensation is never treated as an income source by means tests for welfare benefits and introducing a national protocol to improve public service access for Armed Forces families.

Poppyscotland Public Affairs Manager Lyndsey Wallace says:

“Politicians have an opportunity to make huge improvements to the lives of Scotland’s Armed Forces community. Our asks centre around ensuring that the integrity of the Armed Forces Covenant Duty is upheld, and we hope that all prospective parliamentarians support this.

“As we have set out in our Manifesto, our Armed Forces community still face numerous disadvantages as a result of their links to service. It is our position that this is deeply unjust.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with elected stakeholders on behalf of Scotland’s Armed Forces community. In doing so, we will continue to seek the removal of these existent barriers.”

The full Manifesto can be viewed: here.

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