Our Armed Forces Community
Armed Forces Covenant
Harborough District Council signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2014 making our promise to ensure that those who serve or who have served, and their families, are treated fairly. This commitment is made in recognition of the sacrifices they make on behalf of the country.
Life in the Armed Forces is different to the rest of society. Whilst a military career is challenging and rewarding, Armed Forces personnel make sacrifices in order to serve. They go where they are sent, when they are sent. As long as we need to defend our nation and its interests in an uncertain and dangerous world, we will need Armed Forces that are ready and willing to serve when called. So families will have to move, sometimes with little notice, to unfamiliar areas. Or may have to live apart for extended periods of time and cope with the issues that this can bring. And they will face the stresses and strains that arise when their loved one is deployed on operational commitments.
All of this means that they can find themselves at a disadvantage in comparison with their civilian neighbours in accessing the goods and services that as citizens we should all expect. Through our Armed Forces Covenant work, Harborough District council aims to ensure that they get a fair deal and are not disadvantaged because of their service.
What is the Armed Forces Covenant?
To those who proudly protect our nation, who do so with honour, courage, and commitment, the Armed Forces Covenant is the nation’s commitment to you.
The origins of the Armed Forces Covenant in the UK can be traced back to Elizabeth I and the Earl of Dudley. More recently the Armed Forces Covenant was incorporated into the Armed Forces Act 2011. This requires a report to be placed before Parliament, annually, on the progress being made to implement the Covenant.
In the Queen’s Speech of 2019, Government indicated they will further incorporate the covenant into law within the next Parliament to mitigate any disadvantage faced by the Armed Forces community due to the unique nature of military service.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives.
Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether Regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.
This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes statutory, voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces.
The issue the Covenant is addressing is the fair and equal access to goods, services, information and support whether from statutory, voluntary or commercial organisations. This means:
- ensuring that service personnel, ex-service personnel and their families are NOT disadvantaged through military service
- ensuring a level playing field so that there is equal access to any form of service or support or information
- special consideration is given on a case by case basis and is at the discretion of the organisation providing it
The purpose of the Armed Forces Covenant is to put the individual (or family) in a position comparable to that of an equivalent citizen (or family) that is not in the Armed Forces. This is about bringing the Armed Forces individual/family up to the level of the ordinary citizen rather than getting them beyond what an ordinary citizen may be entitled to. There is no special treatment apart from the support to reduce any disadvantage members of the Armed Forces and their families may experience.
The Armed Forces Covenant does not confer a legal right to the provision of services and support over and above what is the legal right and entitlement of an ordinary citizen.
Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.
Special consideration is proportionate and related to the sacrifice the individual or family have made. This is discretionary and provided by the organisation to which the request for special consideration is made on a case by case basis. It does not confer any right or entitlement; it can only be asked for and not enforced.
Supporting the Covenant
There are a number of ways organisations and individuals can support the Covenant:
- signing a Covenant pledge
- gaining an award through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme
- participating in events such as Armed Forces Week/Day, Remembrance Sunday and others
- signing the Armed Forces Covenant
Organisations (public, private and voluntary) can make an Armed Forces Covenant pledge here.
Pledges can cover the following:
- be an Armed Forces friendly organisation
- support the employment of veterans and service leavers
- offer flexibility in leave for service spouses and partners before, during and after deployment
- support reservist employees, allowing leave for training and deployment
- offer discounts to members of the armed forces community
Defence employer recognition scheme
This scheme encourages employers to support the Armed Forces and inspire others to do the same. The scheme encompasses bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the Armed Forces community and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.
Participating in events
There are a number of national and local events that members of the public can support such as:
- Flag Raising and Reserves Day during Armed Forces Week (third week of June)
- Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in June)
- Remembrance Day/Sunday (11 November)