DETAILS HAVE BEEN released by the Ministry of Defence on the new official priorities of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, prompting a call for Moray businesses and community groups to consider signing up.
The Armed Forces Covenant recognises that the government and the nation have an obligation to the Armed Forces community and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.
Published in May 2011, the covenant itself is not a legal document but its key principles have been enshrined in law in the Armed Forces Act 2011. The legislation obliges the Defence Secretary to report annually on progress made by the government in honouring the covenant.
The main priority for the £10million annual fund is to focus this year on provision of a Veterans Gateway along with the funding of projects that support military families who are experiencing stressful life events. There is also focus on an increase in the integration of the Armed Forces with local communities and help for improving Covenant delivery through local authorities.
The purpose of the ‘Veterans’ Gateway’ is to appoint a single UK-wide pilot project to set up a multi-media point of contact for veterans seeking assistance.
Organisations offering support to military families experiencing a stressful life event will also now be able to claim up to £300,000 to set up specialised projects. Up to £20,000 will be available to small groups and organisations, to help integrate Armed Forces and civilian communities and/or help deliver valuable local services to the Armed Forces community. Finally, up to £500,000 will be available to local authorities who wish to materially improve the experience of local Armed Forces communities and ensure they are not disadvantaged in accessing local services.
Sarah Riley-Evans is RAF Lossiemouth’s Armed Forces Covenant Champion. She said: “RAF Lossiemouth personnel and the local community have had some significant wins with the Armed Forces Covenant including £750,000 for the RAF and RNAS Heritage Centre, £70,000 for St Gerardine Primary School outdoor play area and community hub, and £70,000 for Skillforce to launch a junior version of their project locally.
“The new priorities set out by the MoD will continue to ensure that our military personnel and their families are not unfairly disadvantaged by serving their country.”
Councillor Chris Tuke, Armed Forces Champion for Moray Council, added: “Following the disproportionate success that Moray has had with the previous Community Covenant Grant Scheme, it is hoped that qualifying groups and charities will come forward with similarly high quality bids to the newly rebranded Armed Forces Covenant Fund.
“I would also like to encourage businesses to sign up to the Corporate Covenant and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, both to show support for our Armed Forces and to potentially benefit from the skills, dedication and loyalty of ex-forces and Reserve personnel.”
Guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covenant-fund-guidance-on-how-to-apply along with the application forms.
Any interested party is strongly encouraged to make contact with the Armed Forces Champion for either Moray Council or the respective military Units in Moray prior to submitting an application, as the funding panel looks favourably on any bid which can clearly demonstrate they have consulted with local stakeholders.