To receive the report (with recommendations) of the Armed Forces Community Covenant Working Group attached as Appendix C to this agenda.
The Council considered a report at Appendix C in the agenda pack which provided the annual progress report (as requested by Council in April 2018) on delivery of the Armed Forces Community Covenant in Kingston.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in June 2013 and again in November 2018. The covenant pledges civic support for service personnel in the borough in areas such as work and training, housing, schools for service children and welfare, and pledges to promote public understanding and awareness of issues affecting the Armed Forces while, for the Armed Forces, the covenant encourages personnel and their families to do as much as they can to support the community and promote activities which integrate service and civilian life.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant Member Officer Working Group (MOG) was established by Policy and Resources Committee on 5 December 2013 with a remit ‘to examine means by which the Council could recognise the contribution of the armed forces community and give tangible effect to its commitments under the Armed Forces Covenant. Recommendations arising from the Group would be submitted to the relevant Strategic and/or Neighbourhoods Committee dependent upon the nature of the proposal.’
The current Chair of the MOG, Councillor Margaret Thompson, is also the Armed Forces Champion and, in her role during 2019/20 as Mayor of the Royal Borough, has attended a number of armed forces events including memorial services, meeting veterans, reservists and cadets, Remembrance Day events, parades and services at places of worship locally and London wide. Councillor Maria Netley is the other elected Member on the MOG. The Director of Public Health is the Lead Officer responsible for the MOG.
The MOG’s report, attached as Annex 1 to the report,summarised the work of the MOG over the past six and a half years, intelligence about what is available to current and ex-armed forces personnel and their families in Kingston, and progress made to date, including:
· a commitment under the Housing Allocations Scheme to allocate up to two flats each year to single veterans has been made.
· identifying the need for local coordination of help, assistance and responsiveness, particularly for veterans who have a high level of need or who are discharged from specialist centres such as Stanford Hall, Leicestershire, which is the new rehabilitation centre, taking over from Headley Court, Surrey
· discussions with the Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and developing relationships with organisations that support the Armed Forces e.g. Royal Star and Garter
· monitoring of local demographics and census information
· development of an e-learning package (Armed Forces Covenant Awareness) for staff which will be made accessible to councillors
The Council noted the progress made, including that of the Working Group, as set out in the report and it was
1. a Councillor is appointed at the Annual Council meeting as an Armed Forces Champion, along with an Assistant Armed Forces Champion (from different political groups);
2. staff and elected Members are made aware of the Armed Forces Community Covenant for Kingston as part of their induction;
3. the Council and its partners continue to develop an understanding of the needs of the local armed forces and families, including the G (Guards) Company of the London Regiment, and of veterans, and respond in accordance with the Covenant
4. in future, the annual report is submitted to the relevant committee (currently, Children’s and Adults’ Care and Education Committee) to allow for more detailed Member discussion and public participation on this item prior to consideration by the Council.
Voting - unanimous