Council renews its commitment to the armed forces as new law comes in to place

A new legal duty to consider the needs of armed forces personnel, their families and veterans when planning and delivering our services comes into force today and is being welcomed by Oxfordshire County Council.

The Armed Forces Covenant, first signed by Oxfordshire County Council in 2011 and renewed with civilian and military partners in 2018, was a voluntary ‘promise from the nation’ that those who serve or have served in the armed forces (and their families) should be treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.

Oxfordshire County Council is proud to have long been an enthusiastic supporter of the armed forces community. The new duty is being viewed by the council as a chance to reflect on what’s working well and what we could be done even better.

All public bodies, including Oxfordshire County Council, are now required to consider how its services recognise the three principles of the Armed Forces Covenant:

  • the unique obligations of, and sacrifices made by, the armed forces;
  • the principle that it is desirable to remove disadvantages arising for service people from membership, or former membership, of the armed forces; and
  • the principle that special provision for service people may be justified by the effects on such people of membership, or former membership, of the armed forces.

The duty specifically applies to how we exercise certain legal functions in healthcare, education and housing. As a keen supporter of the armed forces community, the council has committed to extending the duty to apply to its wider services as well. 

Oxfordshire County Council Leader and overall Military Champion, Cllr Liz Leffman said: “The new duty is a great opportunity for us all to think about how we support and work with Oxfordshire’s armed forces community and to ask ourselves how we can do more to help meet their needs. It’s closely aligned to our commitment to make Oxfordshire a greener, fairer and healthier county.”

Covenant Lead and Director for Public Health Ansaf Azhar, added: “Our senior leaders have long shown their support for delivery of services in ways which uphold the Armed Forces Covenant. I know we will use the duty to help us think about how to best meet those needs in all that we do.”

The armed forces in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is home to a significant armed forces presence of more than 11,000 military personnel and families including:

  • 25 per cent of the UK’s RAF personnel and 49 per cent of RAF reservists
  • 50 per cent of UK Army logistics capacity
  • 6,500 recipients of armed forces pension/compensation;
  • 2,200 cadets across various units, including sea cadets;
  • Five major military bases:
    • RAF Brize Norton
    • RAF Benson
    • Bicester Garrison
    • 3 and 4 Regt Royal Logistics Corps in Abingdon
    • 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Regimentt in Didcot
  • Also the tri-service UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham.

Find out more

As a long-standing Covenant signatory and (since 2020) a holder of “Gold” standard in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme, we encourage other organisations and businesses to consider how they can uphold the ambitions of the Armed Forces Covenant and support Oxfordshire’ armed forces community.

You can read the 2018 Oxfordshire Armed Forces Covenant on our website.  The government also has extensive resources to support organisations in upholding the Covenant, including statutory guidance.

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