The Naval Families Federation has joined 11 other military charities in calling for the strengthening of the Armed Forces Bill which is currently going through Parliament.
The 12 organisations have signed an open letter urging the government and MPs to widen the scope of the Bill, delivering on the full promise of the Armed Forces Covenant.
A new Bill is introduced every five years to renew the Armed Forces Act, allowing additions and amendments to be made before each Bill become law.
One of the key elements of the latest Bill is the proposal to make it a legal duty for public bodies to consider the Armed Forces Covenant when creating policy or making decisions.
The Covenant, which was enshrined in law in 2011, is the promise by the nation that Service personnel, veterans, and their families will not be at a disadvantage as a result of military service.
While senior figures in the military charity sector broadly welcomed provisions in the new Bill they believe that it does not go far enough in covering the full range of day-to-day issues that affect the Armed Forces community and which are regularly raised by families contacting the NFF.
In particular, the new legal obligations introduced by the Bill would only apply to local councils and some limited public bodies delivering housing, health and education – the national government and devolved administrations would be exempt from this duty, which the charities identify as a “major gap” in the Bill.
The letter states that this is “compounded by the omission of important topics including employment, pensions, compensation, social care, criminal justice, and immigration from the Bill’s scope.”
The open letter to MPs has been signed by NFF Chief Executive Anna Wright, along with leading figures in the Royal British Legion, Poppyscotland, Cobseo (the Confederation of Service Charities), Veterans Scotland, SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, Help for Heroes, Combat Stress, the Forces in Mind Trust, the Army Families Federation, the RAF Families Federation and the RAF Association.
Read the full text of the letter here.