Why the new Armed Forces Covenant Duty is relevant to housing associations

01 December 2022

The new Armed Forces Covenant Duty is a legal obligation on certain public bodies to ‘have due regard’ to the principles of the Covenant. It requires decisions about the development and delivery of certain services to be made with conscious consideration of the needs of the Armed Forces community. The Covenant Duty applies to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The new Duty will raise awareness amongst organisations that provide services in healthcare, education, and housing of service life on the armed forces community. It also covers how disadvantages can arise due to Service when members of that community seek to access key local services.

“Due regard” means that organisations in scope of the Duty will need to consciously consider the unique obligations and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces. It also aims to remove disadvantages faced by the Armed Forces community; and recognises that this may mean special provision may be justified in some circumstances.

Organisations who need to comply with the new law in England include:

  • Local authorities.
  • NHS England, Integrated Care Boards, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts.

Public services provided by organisations affected by the new law

As regards housing include:

  • Allocations policy for social housing.
  • Tenancy strategies (England only).
  • Homelessness.
  • Disabled Facilities Grants.

As regards health include:

  • Provision of healthcare services.

What does this mean for housing associations?

This new Covenant is relevant to housing associations working with local authorities to rehouse people through social housing allocations, including where they deliver the lettings service on behalf of the local authority, and to improve the accessibility of homes through Disabled Facilities Grants, as well as with healthcare organisations to help deliver services. They will support local authorities to meet their statutory duty.

The Ministry of Defence has produced statutory guidance to help affected organisations to understand and comply with the Covenant Duty. The guidance includes: examples of support for veterans from housing associations, including housing strategies that address the Armed Forces Community, such as Riverside’s Strategy for Veterans; ways in which veterans might need support in housing and how housing assocaitions can signpost to services; information on local connection and about the No Homeless Veterans campaign that the NHF is supporting.

Visit the Armed Forces Covenant website to find out more

If you have any questions about the Covenant, and what it could mean for your organisation, please get in touch with our team.

Who to speak to

Suzannah Young, Policy Leader