Armed Forces Covenant
The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant (SAFC) brings together charities, local authorities, other public sector organisations, businesses, communities, individuals and the military in a pledge of support between local residents and the armed forces community in Somerset. The pledge was signed on 20 February 2012.
- encourages local communities to support their local armed forces community and vice versa
- promotes public understanding and awareness of issues that affect the armed forces community
- recognises and remembers the sacrifices made by the armed forces community
- encourages activities that help to integrate the armed forces community into local life
The Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve. It says we will do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives. This includes offering injured servicemen and women and bereaved families extra support where appropriate.
For more information about the national covenant, visit their website.
Somerset has a long history of Armed Forces being based within our county such as RNAS Yeovilton and Norton Manor Camp. Local organisations, including councils, already have good relationships with these bases and the charities that support in-service and ex-service personnel and their families.
The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant seeks to build on these relationships and local support, and provide a more consistent and complete approach. We work with the Armed Forces community on a range of priority areas within Somerset including:
- Building communities
- Education, skills and employment
- Housing, benefits, health and welfare.
The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant is co-ordinated by Somerset County Council. More details and all the related documents can be found on their webpage.
You are part of the armed forces community if you are serving, or have served, in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army or Royal Air Force. The armed forces community also includes families and dependents, reservists, and veterans - this is anyone who has served in the armed forces.
How SSDC supports the Armed Forces community
Housing Options and Homelessness
The current Homefinder Somerset policy gives priority to Armed Forces or ex Armed Forces in two main ways.
1. Main or joint applicants that fall within the following categories will be deemed to have a local connection to Somerset.
a) Serving or former members of the Armed Forces that have left the services in the last 5 years
b) Serving members of the Armed Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service
c) Bereaved spouses or civil partners of those serving in the regular forces where
i. the bereaved spouse or civil partner has recently ceased, or will cease to be entitled, to reside in Ministry of Defence accommodation following the death of their service spouse or civil partner, and
ii. the death was wholly or partly attributable to their service
d) Serving or former members of the Reserve Forces who need to move because of a serious injury, medical condition or disability sustained as a result of their service
e) Are an ex-partner of a serving member (within the last 12 months)
In addition, the above groups are given further priority treatment in that the effective date will be backdated two years from the date of application.
2. Homeless applications - we do not wait for the notice to expire or require that the landlord obtains a court order before we accept a homeless duty to a member of the armed forces who are leaving and moving out of service accommodation.
Council Tax and Housing Benefit
- 100% exemption from Council Tax for properties owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and used as armed forces accommodation.
- In Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support the full sum of War Widows/Widower Pension and War Disablement Pensions are disregarded in full.
Armed Forces Covenant grant scheme
The Government's Covenant Fund, launched in August 2015, has a different focus from the grant scheme it replaces. The process for grant applications has also changed.
The Fund is an annual £10 million which is available in perpetuity. The Government will therefore keep the operation of the Fund under review to ensure its aims are delivered through a process of continual improvement.
Current Ministry of Defence guidance is available.
Details of the current grant programmes can be obtained from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Armed Forces in Somerset facts and figures
Data on the Armed Forces community (serving and veterans) in Somerset, including a break down by District Council area, is collected and published by Somerset County Council on the Somerset Intelligence website.
South Somerset has a significant population of serving personnel, not least due to the presence of Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton. According to the last Census (2011) South Somerset had 1745 residents who were employed in the Armed Forces.
Ministry of Defence (MOD) figures as of April 2016 show that South Somerset has 2,860 MOD personnel; 2,320 who are military and a further 540 civilians.
There are no definitive figures for the number of veterans or their dependents nationally or living in Somerset. However, the Royal British Legion estimates there are 15,395 ex-Service personnel living in Somerset.
Armed Forces Pension & Compensation Recipient figures as of March 2015 indicate that there may be in the region of 3,300 veterans living in the district.
Forces Connect South West
Forces Connect South West is a local authority initiative that supports the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant to the military community across the South West through effective partnerships.
The website has been designed to simplify the identification, understanding and the pathways to accessing the right support when and where required. It also provides information and resources to help better understand the Armed Forces Covenant in the South West and nationally. If you need help, go to the Veterans Gateway via the Get Help button or by using this link.