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The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. It was published in May 2011 and its core principles were enshrined in law, for the first time, in the Armed Forces Act 2011. It applies to all three services.

The Covenant articulates the view that the nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces Community in return for the sacrifices they make. Specifically, the Covenant outlines two core principles:

  • No disadvantage: no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
  • Special consideration: special consideration is appropriate in some cases, particularly for those who have been injured or bereaved.

The Armed Forces Act 2011 does not create legally enforceable rights for Service personnel but it does require the Secretary of State for Defence to report to Parliament each year on the progress made with respect to the Covenant.

On Wednesday 21 November the Government published the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2018. The report highlights all the areas where progress has been achieved over the last year and outlines some key priorities for the future. The 2017 report was published on 18 December 2017. Information on the Covenant is available on a dedicated website: Armed Forces Covenant.

The Defence Committee published its report on the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2017 on 30 June 2018 (HC 707 2017-19) and the Government response on 26 September 2018. The Committee looked at a range of issues including accommodation, pay, veterans, healthcare and education.

Last week the Government published its first Strategy for Veterans and led a debate in the Commons on 15 November 2018. The annual reports on the Covenant will include progress on implementing the Veterans Strategy. Library briefing paper Support for Veterans outlines the support available to Veterans in the UK.

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