Leeds City Council has been acknowledged with a prestigious accolade from the Ministry of Defence for its backing of the armed forces.

The Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) 2023 Gold Award has been bestowed upon the council as an acknowledgement of its support for the armed forces community and its alignment with the values of the Armed Forces Covenant.

To meet the requirements for the gold award, nominees must have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and proactively demonstrated their forces-friendly credentials in their recruitment and selection processes. They also ensure that their workforce is well-informed about their positive policies concerning matters related to the armed forces and advocate for these issues with partner organisations, suppliers, and customers.

Gold award employers also actively promote a positive environment for reservists and show support for these personnel to carry out the necessary activities for their role, including granting at least 10 days of additional fully paid leave for training purposes.

Leeds City Council underwent assessment for the Gold Award by a panel that included a senior military officer. It is one of only 193 new recipients for 2023 and the sole local authority in the Yorkshire & Humber region to be granted the Gold Award.

Speaking after the announcement of the award, the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis said: “As a city, we are extremely honoured to have a long and distinguished military history, and we are proud of the support we offer members of the armed forces, veterans, and cadets not only within the council but across the city.

“As a council, we have many competing priorities, especially with the challenges presented by the cost-of-living crisis. However, this award shows how well we as a city have risen to the challenge of meeting our commitments to the Armed Forces Covenant in these difficult times, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved.”

Chair of the Armed Forces Covenant Committee, Councillor Caroline Gruen, added: “I speak for Councillor Almass, Councillor Dowson, and myself when I say working as Leeds City Council’s armed forces champions is highly rewarding in its own right.

“We work closely across the city with organisations and businesses to ensure our community of veterans, cadets, reservists, and serving forces personnel have the support they and their families need. However, receiving the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme 2023 Gold Award is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to the hard work of all those across Leeds City Council who go above and beyond to meet our Armed Forces Covenant commitments.”