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Government to 'rebuild' covenant

defencemanagement.com reports that military families are set to benefit from £10m of additional funding for their children's education through the introduction of a special 'pupil premium' as the government looks to 'rebuild' the military covenant.

The move is one of a range of support measures to be introduced in the government's Armed Forces bill, which will also see the government enter talks with banks over the provision of mortgages to service families.

The Treasury is to chair talks between banks and government over the unique challenges face by military families looking to obtain credit, with a Downing Street spokesman said there was a "real problem facing service families, through no fault of their own".

The spokesman said government would ask banks to "get to the bottom of it".

The pupil premium, effective from April 2011, will see the schools of around 36,000 service children receiving total additional funding of around £10m.

The Defence Secretary will also present an annual Armed Forces Covenant report to Parliament every year, setting out progress on areas such as healthcare, housing and education.

In July, Prime Minister David Cameron asked Professor Hew Strachan, a military historian at Oxford University, to lead an independent Task Force to develop low-cost, innovative ideas to improve the covenant, the agreement between the nation and the armed forces.

With the report now published, the government has said work will begin "immediately" on two of its recommendations. The first is for an Armed Forces Community Covenant, which encourages communities across the UK to volunteer support for their local Armed Forces.

The second is for a Chief of Defence Staff Commendation Scheme, which will reward individuals or bodies who give "exceptional support" to the Armed Forces.

A full response to this report's recommendations is due to be published in Spring 2011.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Our service personnel make an extraordinary contribution to British life. Those serving on the front line risk their lives for us on a daily basis. So all of us - the government, the private sector, and the voluntary organisations - need to go the extra mile for them. I want to get to the root of their issues and make sure that the inevitable disturbance associated with military life does not lead to greater problems."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "We are committed to strengthening the bonds between this country and the Armed Forces that do so much to defend it. This comprehensive independent report into the Military Covenant includes many recommendations to help us work on rebuilding the Covenant step by step."

Tags: Armed forces covenant

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