The theme of this year’s Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report is ‘Delivering Effective Support’. In his foreword, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson says, “through improved measurement of the Covenant we have been able to examine delivery and progress against commitments over the past year.”
In its first year, the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board, has focused on improving the measurement of Covenant delivery in healthcare, education, accommodation, inquests, family life, through‑life support, business and community.
There is a handy pocket book summary of the report here. RFCA members working with local authorities on their delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant should ensure their Military Civilian Partnership Board (or equivalent) members are familiar with its contents.
Key highlights of the report include, a new fund to support spouses and civil partners of those who serve with access to vocational training and development opportunities, helping them find jobs in new sectors or self-employment. This fund follows the success of the MOD’s Spouse Employment Support trial conducted by CTP and evaluated by FiMT and Anglia Ruskin University.
A major focus during 2019 will be to begin measuring the effectiveness of the pledges made by businesses in support of the Covenant.
More than 1,000 new Covenant signings in 2018. In November the Post Office became the 3,000th signatory of the Covenant. The report refers to an as yet unpublished independent review of the Covenant in Business the Forces in Mind Trust was commissioned to deliver by the end of this year, which is intended to help promote positive employment support to the Armed Forces community and improving engagement with industry.
The report outlines an ambitious set of targets for next year in the areas of childcare solutions for service families, and services accommodation. The Community Action Group is set to develop a self‑assessment tool and e‑learning package to help local authorities define and measure their delivery of Covenant commitments. The full report also includes comments on progress and ongoing need from the single services families federations, Cobseo, Chapter and RBL.
The University of Northumbria’s Covenant‑funded ‘Map of Need’ project is helping to build a full picture of the needs of the Armed Forces community (including veterans, families and Reservists) and the services available to them. The findings of the Map of Need project means specific resources and funding can be targeted to areas in most need and 2.75 million veterans and their families will have an increased awareness of the available support services in their local area.
This report precedes a new holistic transition policy the Ministry of Defence is due to introduce later this year, and follows the launch of the Veterans Strategy. The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing consultation is open now; anyone with a view is encouraged to comment.