The Our Community – Our Covenant report, jointly commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and Local Government Association (LGA), looks at ways to improve the local delivery of the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant. The comprehensive report found that 38% of Armed Forces Community members felt disadvantaged as a result of their service, the report also identified in some aspects a discrepancy between what is perceived to be the Covenant’s remit, and what is actually being delivered.
Our Community - Our Covenant, supported by the Ministry of Defence, uses examples of good practice from across the UK, providing an outline of the core infrastructure needed to deliver the Covenant’s aims, and offers a number of key recommendations to help better deliver these objectives.
With the signing of the Covenant, local authorities across the UK and the MOD are working together to better prepare and support veterans in their transition into civilian life, but this report finds that the MOD could do more. These findings echo the recommendations made in a recent Royal British Legion report Deployment to Employment: Exploring the veteran employment gap in the UK, where the charity suggested the Covenant “must do more to ensure that it does not perpetuate the stereotype of the veteran as the victim”. The report also found, not all council Chief Executives reported that they had a ‘good’ understanding of the Covenant, and an active action plan. The report also underlines the importance of individuals in the Armed Forces Community taking responsibility for their own transition.
Key recommendations made in the report
- Produce an LGA and Government agreed statement on what the Covenant can and cannot be expected to deliver;
- Enhancing the effectiveness of local authorities’ Covenant coordinating groups by ensuring each has the core infrastructure in place to meet local needs;
- Creating an action research framework to support good practice for councils in their delivery of local Covenant pledges;
- Improving the transition process by better tracing and communicating with all serving and ex-Service members of the Armed Forces Community; and
- Exploring how to improve internal and external communications between significant Armed Forces bases and councils.
At SaluteMyJob we fully back FiMT’s recommendations. Our chairman, General Nick Parker, recently discussed the Armed Forces Covenant in an Op-Ed in The Times. He said although over 900 employers have pledged to support the employment of veterans young and old, “why does the employment problem endure when so many companies are apparently actively supporting veterans?” Mr Parker said his fear is “they lack the wherewithal to turn their goodwill and intent into actionable programmes, navigate and understand a complex military landscape and successfully access the full breadth of the ex-military talent pool”. So we wholeheartedly agree with FiMT’s recommendation to improve the communication between the Armed Forces community and councils (and businesses). This will undoubtedly help in understanding the “complex military landscape”, improving the transition process and the communication between veterans, employers and the rest of the community - which will in turn create more job opportunities for ex-military personnel - and sequentially benefit hundreds of employers. The need for a more streamlined, comprehensive and accessible Covenant, with practical steps on what organisations and authorities must deliver when they sign, is also a key to fully delivering what the Covenant has set out to do - to fully acknowledge and understand 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.
To read the full report, go to http://bit.ly/2fxg38U.