What is the Armed Forces Covenant?

The Armed Forces Covenant has been in existence since 2000.  As one of few law firms in the country part of Forces Law, we outline its history and purpose and why we have signed up as a Recognised Employer. 

Also referred to as 'Military Covenant', it's a pledge from the Government to "treat members of the British Armed Forces and their families with fairness and respect." The Armed Forces Community must have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen.

This support includes:

  • Education and family well-being
  • Having a Home
  • Starting a new career
  • Access to Healthcare
  • Financial assistance
  • Discounted services

The Covenant originated in a booklet published by the Army, entitled 'Soldiering – the Military Covenant', which set out the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. 

It says:

"Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ultimate sacrifice –; in the service of the Nation. In putting the needs of the Nation and the Army before their own, they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces

"In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service..."

"This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history."

The Armed Forces Covenant is used to measure whether the government, and country in general, is doing enough to support members of the armed forces, be it through adequate safeguards, rewards, or compensation.

It is not, however, enshrined by law - which would allow British service personnel to sue the state for breaches of it. 

It is an informal understanding, rather than a legally enforceable deal, but it is nevertheless treated with great seriousness within the services.

The Covenant has been a force for good. Several Chiefs of the Defence Staff and Royal British Legion have referred to it in the past when arguing that governments need to do more for the forces community.

In 2007, the Labour government announced that veterans would get priority treatment on the NHS and that injured personnel would be immediately treated in hospital rather than having to go through waiting lists. Prescription charges were also waived.

In 2008, Mr Justice Blake referred to the Military Covenant when upholding the claim of six Gurkha soldiers to have the right to settle in the UK at the end of their service.

David Cameron was planning to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law in 2010. Plans were dropped the following year, but it was agreed that the Government would submit an annual report on the covenant to Parliament, assessing how it is achieving its own goals for the armed forces, veterans and their families. 

Anderson Rowntree Solicitors is one of just a handful of law firms that are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and are able to give the most appropriate advice to serving personnel or veterans.

Our services cover all aspects of civilian law applied to your individual circumstances.

Our Armed Forces Covenant Bronze Award recognises that we pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and inspire others to do the same.

We are armed forces-friendly and are open to employing reservists, armed forces veterans (including the wounded, injured and sick), cadet instructors and military spouses/partners.

For more information and for a confidential initial discussion on your legal issues, contact Jane Hodge on 01243 787899 or email jane.hodge@andersonrowntree.co.uk