Councillors at Powys County Council have voted to support a motion from Welsh Labour Councillors which calls for more support for our Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
Brecon’s Cllr Matthew Dorrance and Cllr David Meredith secured a debate at Powys County Council in response to the UK Government’s Armed Forces Act 2021. The Brecon councillors said they “welcome the new legislation to support Forces communities in Powys and the new provisions covering education, housing, and healthcare but the Act remains a missed opportunity as it does not cover other areas such as service accommodation, pensions, and social care and it fails to fully enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law.”
The County Council backed the calls from Matthew Dorrance and David Meredith and Councillors from all political groups voted in favour of the motion. The successful motion has now committed the Council to working with Forces charities to get the UK Government to strengthen the Covenant and improve vital services for Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
The motion also noted with disappointment that Conservative MPs voted down Labour-led proposals, backed by the Royal British Legion and ex-Service chiefs, to enshrine the Covenant fully into law and improve Armed Forces accommodation, employment support and pensions and to end the scandal of visa fees for Commonwealth and Gurkha personnel. The UK Government has now made some concessions on visa fees for Commonwealth and Gurkha personnel.
Cllr Matthew Dorrance said:
“I am very pleased that Powys County Council has supported our motion and said overwhelmingly that it stands firmly behind our Armed Forces and recognises their essential role to make our country and the world safer. I am particularly proud of the work our Armed Forces have done to support frontline efforts to help the country through the pandemic.
“Welsh Labour Councillors fully support the aims of the Armed Forces Covenant and we recognise the crucial role Armed Forces Champions play in local communities like ours to support Forces communities.”
Cllr David Meredith said:
“Our Armed Forces make a significant contribution to our communities and we stand with them and for them in campaigning to improve the support they are able to access.
“It is disappointing that Tory ministers repeatedly refused to fully enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant into law and have instead chosen to outsource their responsibilities for delivering for Forces communities to local authorities.
“Whilst some of the provisions on housing, healthcare and education are welcome, the Armed Forces Act remains a missed opportunity to deliver real improvements to the day-to-day lives of our service personnel, veterans and their families.”