The sixth Armed Forces Covenant annual report has been presented to parliament, showing good progress on providing support for the Armed Forces Community.
The Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Follow this link to the full report. Cobseo response is on page 18.
Covenant. At the end of each year the government produces a report on the covenant and Cobseo provides independent comment based upon the input we have from our Executive and Clusters. This year we also went out to all of you to ask for your perspectives and we plan to repeat this consultation process in future years. It is our collective opportunity to hold Government to account. This year the report was published on the 18 December and rightly it will highlight areas where progress has been made; Health, Education, Accommodation and raising the profile of the Covenant across the country, however there is a great deal more that needs to be done. We have highlighted four:
National Perception. The recent study by Lord Ashcroft into transition illustrated that the nation’s perception is that the veterans are damaged by their service either in body or in mind. They are perceived as a burden on society rather than a benefit. This is clearly wrong; servicemen and women are disciplined, flexible, motivated, and good team players. They are exactly the kind of people the country needs, and every business needs. The national perception matters because it could impact upon the value placed upon Service and influence both recruiting, and job opportunities for veterans. Responsibility for changing the national view rests with government and we are delighted that the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board has taken on the task. Cobseo stands by to assist in any way that we can.
Growing Need. Despite the positive tone of the Covenant Report, we highlighted that the growing membership has experienced an increase in the number of calls for assistance and an increase in their complexity which is a cause for concern. The Covenant Fund project ‘Map of Need’ will carry out a systematic and objective analysis of the demand which will begin to report in the early part of next year.
Measuring Outcomes. The report highlights a series of positive measures which should assist service personnel, veterans and their families. But we would like to see greater emphasis on outputs and outcomes, for example:
- Performance targets set, and the Secretary of State reporting against them.
- Input from Veterans and their families – so that there is scope for a wider peer review mechanism.
- A plan for the coming year which would allow the third sector to engage with government in a more collaborative manner.
Housing. Housing needs stand out as a cause for concern for both serving and those in transition. The Families’ Federations have articulated clearly there concerns that the Future Accommodation Model could threaten one of the key elements of security which Service brings. We support their concerns and will be following the trials next year closely. Separately we highlighted that too many Service leavers are departing the service without any clear idea of where they will live or a serious conversation about the accommodation options. The Housing Cluster has proposed an Accommodation Transition Programme to mirror the Career Transition Partnership that exits. It will be interesting to see how this develops.