The Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) aims to ensure that Service Personnel, their dependents and veterans are not disadvantaged in the provision of goods and services, compared with the rest of the population.
All Government Departments have signed the AFC, as have all Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. There are separate arrangements for Northern Ireland. In addition, over 4,000 commercial organisations have signed the AFC, as a commitment to the Armed Forces Community.
Special consideration is given in certain circumstances to particular groups, such as those who have been injured in the course of their service and families of the bereaved.
The AFC has seen a number of measures introduced to help Service personnel and families, including;
- The Forces Help to Buy scheme allows you to borrow up to £25,000 interest free over 10 years to help create a deposit for a new home;
- If you are posted to a location not covered by your existing mobile network provider you will not face a financial penalty for changing providers;
- You can obtain financial advice tailored to your needs;
- Introduction of the Service Pupil Premium, worth £300 per child annually and applied for by schools;
- A flag on a pupil’s Common Transfer File, ensuring that when they transfer schools the new school is aware that the child is from a Service family;
- The Forces Help to Buy Scheme, helping Service families get on the property ladder by providing an interest-free loan of up to half of the Service Person’s salary (capped at £25,000);
- Retention of place on a waiting list for NHS treatment on posting elsewhere in UK.
More detail on what is available for personnel and families can be found on the AFC microsite. In addition, the Covenant Fund provides financial support for a wide range of community initiatives. Ask at your local HIVE or visit the AFC page on the website of your Local Authority to find out what is happening in your area.