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Armed Forces Covenant

Working together to support the armed forces community.

The Armed Forces Community Covenant was first signed by West Berkshire Council in 2011. The Community Covenant was a voluntary 'promise from the nation' that those who serve or have served in the armed forces (and their families) should be treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.

The aim of the covenant is to encourage charities, local authorities, businesses, communities, and individuals to work with the military to offer support to service personnel and their families as well as reservists and veterans.

The Armed Forces Act 2021 strengthened the covenant with a new legal duty for public bodies to consider the needs of armed forces personnel, their families and veterans when planning and delivering services.

You can find more information about the covenant on The Armed Forces Covenant website. You can also find out more about the principles of the covenant and the new legal duty.

The covenant legal duty

West Berkshire Council is proud to have long been an enthusiastic supporter of the armed forces community. The duty is viewed by the council as a chance to reflect on what is working well and what could be done even better.

In accordance with the legal duty, when exercising relevant public functions in the areas of housing, healthcare and education, the council will have due regard to:

  1. the unique obligations of, and sacrifices made by, the armed forces
  2. the principle that it is desirable to remove disadvantages arising for service people from membership, or former membership, of the armed forces
  3. the principle that special provision for service people may be justified by the effects of membership, or former membership, of the armed forces

Removing disadvantages

We aim to make sure that members of the armed forces community have the same level of access to goods, services and support as someone in a similar position who is not a member of the armed forces community, and that any difference does not come from the unique obligations and sacrifices of service life.

Our commitment

West Berkshire Council recognises the value serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families bring to our communities.

There are enormous economic and cultural benefits to having a military presence. These include promoting mutually beneficial relationships between employers and defence, and advocating for the transferable skills and attributes that armed forces personnel take to the civilian workplace.

We will strive to deliver our Armed Forces Covenant principles by working collaboratively with partners, including military representatives, charities, third sector, businesses and other public bodies, to promote the wider armed forces agenda, covenant and covenant legislation.

In respect of the covenant duty we will achieve this by:

  1. providing local authority delivered public health services that take into account the needs of the armed forces community, using the data available on the West Berkshire data observatory 
  2. supporting service children around school admissions and educational achievement

Alongside our covenant duty we will uphold the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, by promoting the council as an armed forces friendly organisation by:

  1. supporting veterans: recognising the value of armed forces veterans in the civilian workforce and supporting the transition to civilian life
  2. recruitment: recognising equivalent military skills and qualifications and/or experience in our recruitment and selection process
  3. understanding our workforce: capturing service data of our employees to understand our workforce profile
  4. supporting service spouses and partners, before, during and after a partner's deployment in accordance with our leave policies where we can
  5. supporting reservists with a clear policy, which grants additional paid/unpaid leave for annual reserve forces training and helps managers to support mobilisations and deployment, as well as raising awareness amongst members of staff of the opportunities to become a reservist
  6. commemorating significant events and celebrating our armed forces: such as Remembrance activities, Armed Forces Day and Reserves Day
  7. facilitating and providing advice and support within our armed forces communities

You can find further information about the covenant and useful resources, including an e-learning course, on the Armed Forces Covenant website.

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