October 1, 2019
Veterans risked their lives for our country to keep us safe and protect the values we hold so dear. The Conservative Party stands behind our Armed Forces.
That’s why we have signed the Armed Forces Covenant. We want to ensure that veterans have the recognition and respect they deserve.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
It is made up of two simple principles. Firstly, that no member of the Armed Forces community should feel disadvantaged when it comes to receiving public or commercial services, and secondly, that special consideration should be given when required, such as to injured veterans or the bereaved.
The Armed Forces Covenant applies to a number of different areas, including:
In signing the Armed Forces Covenant, the Party has committed – among other things – to supporting the employment of Service members’ spouses and partners; to seeking to support employees who choose to be members of the Reserve forces; and pro-actively marketing all vacancies to the veteran community.
And as a small first step, starting next year, we will also offer serving and retired military personnel a discounted rate for Party Conference. We already offer serving and retired military personnel a reduced party membership rate.
We want to make sure we do all we can to support the veteran community as a Party. By implementing the Armed Forces Covenant on a Party level, we want to put our commitment into practice.
Since coming to Government, we have made looking after our veterans are a priority. We have legislated, for example, to give the Armed Forces Covenant a statutory foundation, introducing a requirement for the Secretary of State for Defence to report annually to Parliament on progress delivering Covenant commitments.
We have also since invested £10 million into the Covenant Fund, aiming to remove barriers to family life, provide extra support to those that need help after service, integrate military and civilian communities more closely, and provide extra healthcare support for veterans.
We’ve also opened a new Office of Veteran Affairs to coordinate and hold other parts of Government to account for delivering the Armed Forces Covenant and action on mental and physical health, education, employment and veteran homelessness. That includes the Prime Minister formally appointing Oliver Dowden as Minister representing veterans in Cabinet, alongside Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer.
Oliver Dowden will also jointly chair the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board with the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, to ensure no veteran is disadvantaged because of their service.
We’ve launched the first ever UK-wide Veterans’ Strategy to give veterans the support they need. Part of a ten-year plan, it identifies six areas where support is most needed: community and relationships, employment and skills, health and wellbeing, finance and debt, housing, and contact with the law. We then implement many of those findings to give extra support to veterans and veteran families that need it most.
We’ve also awarded new ID cards for all veterans which mark their time in the Armed Forces. These make it easier for veterans to be verified as such and get support and recognition when needed.
Our defence policy is focussed on making Britain a safer country which fulfils its role on the world stage more effectively than ever. This means the needs of veterans is always high on our agenda, as well as the security of our nation.
That’s why our defence policy has recently delivered a large shipbuilding plan, which will secure thousands of jobs for people at British shipyards. This ensures that the United Kingdom is a global, outward-looking nation as we leave the EU.
Boris Johnson has also appointed Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as the ‘Shipping Tsar’. This means that we have an individual dedicated to getting new investment and opportunities for British shipbuilding.
We have vowed to keep our country safe, and we have pledged to look after our soldiers and veterans. That’s why we are implementing a Conservative defence policy that delivers on these commitments.