Government rejects Defence Committee’s recommendation for an independent assessment of its Armed Forces Covenant commitments

The Government has today rejected the Defence Committee’s recommendation for an independent assessment of its Armed Forces Covenant commitments.
In its response to the annual Armed Forces Covenant report published by the Commons Defence Select Committee earlier this year, the Government rejected criticism that the MoD and other departments are “marking their own homework” when assessing their effectiveness in the delivery of Covenant pledges.
It has however addressed concerns that the military covenant is at risk from a number of factors including “lamentable” accommodation provision and a 1 per cent pay cap for service personnel.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors was the first law firm to sign the Armed Forces Covenant.
Commenting on the Government’s response to the Defence Committee report, Hilary Meredith, Chair of Hilary Meredith Solicitors and Visiting Professor of Law and Veterans’ Affairs at the University of Chester said:
“While the Government deserves credit for addressing a number of the Defence Committee’s concerns, it is stubbornly refusing to accept that an independent assessment should be made of progress towards its Covenant commitments.”
Addressing concerns over armed forces pay, the Government has reiterated that it has ended the 1% average pay policy for the public sector in September 2017, while also accepted the spirit of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body recommendation and granting the Armed Forces a 2% increase to pay (to be implemented in September salaries, backdated to 1 April 2018) and, in addition, a 0.9% non-consolidated one-off payment (implemented later in the year, also backdated to 1 April 2018).
One of the most damning criticisms in the Commons Defence Select Committee report concerns service accommodation, with the “not fit for purpose” contract with Carillion Amey slammed for having no enforcement measures and imposing “woefully low” standards from the company.
Responding to criticism, the Government has today acknowledged that Carillion Amey’s performance in the early years, especially around response maintenance, was inadequate. It says a range of enforcement and assurance measures are now in place to address poor performance, including financial retentions for failing to meet reactive maintenance and void preparation targets.
Said Hilary Meredith:
“The MoD manages 50,000 properties for personnel, yet the arrangement with Carillion Amey was leaving families without basic facilities such as hot water and heating.
“The whole arrangement for providing accommodation for families was not flexible enough to meet 21st Century needs and while the situation has improved the culture within the MoD must change to ensure that this failure is not repeated.”