Honour the Covenant 2007-2011
In 2007, The Royal British Legion called on Government to honour its lifelong duty of care to those making a unique commitment to their country by honouring the Military Covenant with our Armed Forces. The campaign lasted four years and achieved its objectives (supporting policy documents can be viewed here).
Milestones included securing significant improvements to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, the publication of the first ever cross-departmental strategy on improving Armed Forces welfare (the Service Personnel Command Paper) and getting the principles of the Covenant written into law.
Leave it out Ken! 2010-11
The Government listened to the Legion's campaign and agreed to leave the Chief Coroner out of the Public Bodies Bill (our policy briefing on the issue can be read here).
Parliament, the public and bereaved Armed Forces families all agree that the post of the Chief Coroner, to oversee inquests into the deaths of military personnel killed in action, will drastically improve the experience of bereaved Armed Forces families.
This is a huge success for bereaved Armed Forces families, The Royal British Legion and all those who supported the campaign. It also represents the culmination of our campaign for Government to honour the Military Covenant.
Gareth Turkington, whose brother, Lieutenant Neal Turkington, was killed in Nar-e Saraj, Afghanistan, on the 13 July 2010 commented:
It means so much to see the coroners system changed for the better - this reform was long overdue. My family is so grateful to everybody who has emailed their MP and made their mark on this campaign. Thank you.
Following Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's decision not to scrap the post of Chief Coroner, Judge Peter Thronton QC was appointed to the position, starting from September 2012.
Return to Rationing 2008-09
In 2008 The Royal British Legion joined forces with Age Concern (now Age UK) and launched Return to Rationing, a campaign to increase the incomes of older people living in poverty.
On 25 February 2009, a campaign petition, with some 25,000 signatures, was handed in to Number 10 by the Legion's then National President, General Sir John Kiszely.
The Legion used the petition to call for the Government to commit to rebranding Council Tax Benefit as a rebate by the general election. As a result of the campaign, legislation was passed to enable the Government to make this important change.
Time to do your bit 2009-10
In 2009, as the nation's Guardian of the Military Covenant, the Legion launched its manifesto to raise awareness of the needs of the Armed Forces family, especially young Service personnel, bereaved Armed Forces families and veterans.
A parliamentary pledge campaign known as Time to do your bit built tangible support among Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), MPs and the parliamentary parties for political measures to improve the welfare of the whole Armed Forces family.
The Legion held receptions and photocalls, advertised and conducted face-to-face lobbying. We asked the three main party leaders to pledge and set an example - they all did. Our online campaign on Facebook and Twitter invited constituents to email their local MP. In just two days we had achieved 2.2 million 'impressions' and had ensured that every MP was emailed.
As a result, 1,022 PPCs pledged, and a staggering 464 MPs pledged in the new Parliament. At the time, Time to do your bit was the most recognised and most supported campaign in Parliament, with 78% of MPs saying they supported it and 92% rating the Legion as the most effective campaigning charity.
Enshrining the principles of the Covenant in law 2010-11
On 3 November 2011, the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant were enshrined in law for the first time, contained in the new Armed Forces Act 2011 that received Royal Assent. Details of the covenant can be found in the Armed Force Covenant publication prepared by the Ministry of Defence.
Employment preferences for ex-Service men 1921
In 1921, many of the men who fought in the First World War struggled to find work when they returned to Britain. They were being overlooked by employers recruiting younger men or those without disabilities. The Legion campaigned for employers to give preferential treatment to those that had fought to ensure that ex-Service men were not overlooked.
In 1924 the Legion pushed the campaign one step further and made it a requirement that all medium-to large companies had to employ a quota of disabled ex-Service men. This quota remained in place until 1944.
Retain separate Ministry of Pensions 1922
In 1922, just as in the present day, pensions could mean the difference between eating and starvation for ex-Service men, especially those who returned from war injured.
In 1922 pensions would take time to be approved and could be called into question if injuries were not obvious. It was felt that if a separate Ministry of Pensions didn't exist pensions would take even longer to come through or would not be awarded at all.
The Legion campaigned to keep the Ministry separate and it won.
In 1923 the Government wanted to reduce war pensions due to a fall in living costs. The Legion successfully campaigned to maintain the war pension rate.
Remove pensions seven year time limit 1923
The rule remained in place but claims were allowed
Right of appeal against war disability pension ‘final award’ 1923
Appeals were not allowed but cases were reconsidered
Maintain war pensions rate despite fall in living costs 1923
Village settlements for TB ex-Servicemen 1924
Government refused but supported the Legion's settlement
Compel employers to accept quota of disabled ex-Servicemen 1924
Resulted in the 1944 Disabled Persons Act
Rectify 1939 Royal Warrant Shortcomings, as compared with 1919 Warrant 1939
- Lower pensions scale - level by 1943
- Retained seven-year time limit on claims - lifted in 1947
- Burden of proof on appellant - shifted in 1943
- No provision for appeal - granted in 1943
Double war disability pension 1948
After the Second World War the Legion successfully campaigned to double war disability pensions.
In 1974 the Legion ensured that pensions were tied to the cost of living.
Widows' pensions 1961
Widows whose husbands had been killed in action used to have to pay a significant amount of tax on the pensions they received. In 1961, a successful campaign by the Legion saw widows' pensions freed from some of this tax. In 1976 the Legion ensured the rate was cut by 50% and then 100% in 1979. The Legion continued to campaign to raise the rate of the widow's pension throughout the 1970s and 80s.
Raise pre-1973 widows’ pensions to level of post-1973
Raised in 1989
Department of Ex-Service Affairs 1987
Government appointed a Minister in 2001
Raise low-level deafness war pension 1996
Public inquiry into Gulf War illness 1998
The Legion led a campaign to have a formal Government inquiry into Gulf War illness and in 1998 that inquiry took place. The outcome has made a huge difference to the lives of Service men and women affected by the illness and their families.
Millennium gratuity for FEPOWs 1999
Government agreed to pay each Far East Prisoner of War £10,000