The Royal British Legion & the Armed Forces Covenant

_TOM7173Michael spoke at the Royal British Legion’s reception at the Conservative Party Conference recently.

Referring to the Armed Forces Covenant he said:  “It is particularly fitting, in the 100th year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, to reflect on the importance of the Covenant.  Our armed forces today, like those of a hundred years ago, embody the best of British, and it is right we honour all that they do for our country.  We must never forget the willingness of our armed forces to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Importance of The Military Covenant
“The Military Covenant recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families. This isn’t just about Government – it is about society’s commitment as a whole.”

“I am proud that this Government has enshrined the following principles in law:

  • that no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families should be disadvantaged compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services;
  • and that special consideration is appropriate especially for those who have given most such as the injured and bereaved.”

“Never again can the Covenant cease to be honoured.”

Government support
“Much progress has been made and I believe that the Covenant is making a real difference to members of the armed forces community – those who serve, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families.  We have achieved much in key areas including healthcare, education, and housing:

  • Introducing a service pupil premium and giving the Armed Forces priority to help their children find a place in school;
  • Investing £200 million in the Forces Help to Buy scheme enabling service personnel to get a foot on the housing ladder;
  • In July the Prime Minister announced 8 projects that will share nearly £20 million of funding to improve accommodation for armed forces veterans, including £2.5m for RBL;
  • And we are using the LIBOR fines to benefit our Armed Forces – using the penalties of the worst in society to benefit the best;
  • The Chancellor allocated an initial £35 million to projects ranging from special needs houses, to peer mentoring, and support for those dealing with mental health issues;
  • In July the Prime Minister announced the successful bidders for the £40 million Veterans Accommodation Fund;
  • I hope to shortly announce the successful projects as part of the LIBOR Childcare fund;
    And from next spring, we will make permanent a £10 million annual financial commitment.”

Community and corporate
“A big focus has been encouraging business and local authorities to do more:

  • All local authorities in Great Britain have signed up to the Community Covenant – meaning they are all now committed to supporting the armed forces family in their local communities;
  • Over 250 organisations have signed a Corporate Covenant committing to support the armed forces family through their business, including Reservists working for them;
  • And the Covenant has gone international. The Prime Minister personally championed the Armed Forces Declaration which at last month’s NATO Summit saw every Member signing up to honour and look after those whose work and sacrifices have delivered peace and security over the last 65 years.”

RBL Manifesto
“As Defence Secretary I am determined that we continue to strengthen the Covenant – it is an enduring commitment. And you the Royal British Legion play a vital part in that.  So I welcome the publication of your manifesto Building a Better Future for our Armed Forces Community – the first one of the General Election campaign”

“The RBL has outlined the many practical recommendations for strengthening the Covenant.  “I’m pleased that some we were already working:  on hearing aids, career transition plansand alcohol dependency I think we are making real progress. Others such as 18 week referrals I would be happy to look at evidence on. I can also assure you the war widows issue is being considered.  I’m sure you would like me to endorse them all but you will understand that I take the suggestions seriously and I want to give them due consideration.”

“In the meantime, I pay tribute to the excellent work RBL does and to all our serving men and women, veterans and their families, who do so much to keep us safe.”_TOM7197 _TOM7214_TOM7181royal british legion _TOM7189