A call to automatically shortlist veterans for West Midlands Combined Authority jobs has been made by a mayoral candidate.

Labour candidate Liam Byrne MP has made the call as part of a plan to support former Armed Forces personnel and their families.

The move would see veterans automatically shortlisted for posts at the combined authority – headed by the West Midlands mayor – if they apply.

Also among the plans is an idea for a centre of excellence for the treatment of injuries, rehabilitation and sport at the new hospital planned for Arden Cross, Solihull involving Birmingham’s Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and the Commonwealth Games.

He has also said he would appoint an advocate for the Armed Forces community at the combined authority, run veteran specific training and job skills workshops.

The plan would also involve asking the combined authority and local authorities to “refresh” their commitments around the Armed Forces Covenant – a pledge to treat those who have served and their families with fairness and respect.

There are around 76,000 veterans living in the West Midlands, with those of working age nearly twice as likely to be unemployed, the combined authority has previously said.

Mr Byrne, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, said the reason he feels strongly is that he has often encountered veterans who are sleeping rough on visits to soup kitchens and said: “I just think that is wrong.

“It is pretty clear the Armed Forces Covenant needs a refresh and the reality is there are services for jobs, health and housing which are not good enough.

“I want the West Midlands to be a beacon for best practice and I don’t think we are there yet.”

Cllr Mick Brown (Lab, Gravelly Hill) is step-father to serving soldier Warrant Officer Vincent Hockley of the Irish Guards, who has served for 22 years and was seriously wounded during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2010.

Cllr Brown, who is “disappointed” with the current Armed Forces Covenant, said: “I think what Liam is suggesting is positive. A lot of local authorities have their own covenants. I think it would be more positive if there was a West Midlands-wide one.

“It’s going to give that covenant more clout because it’s covering a wide geographical area.”

He backed the idea of automatic shortlistings and said it should be taken up more widely by organisations – and also said more should be done by businesses to mark servicemen and servicewomen in their local area.

He said: “Ex-servicemen and servicewomen have a lot of transferable skills. I think this country may not recognise these skills in the way they are in America.”

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has published its own manifesto for the West Midlands mayoral election – setting out what it would want the winning candidate to do to support veterans.

This includes recommendations to introduce a concessionary travel scheme for veterans, and to appoint an advocate for the Armed Forces community at the combined authority level.

Kate Green, RBL area manager for the West Midlands, said: “The RBL believes that the needs of the Armed Forces community in the West Midlands should be recognised and addressed by mayoral candidates in the region.

“For the first time, the RBL has published it’s own manifesto in response to these mayoral elections containing six key recommendations that would improve the lives of serving and ex-serving personnel and their families in the area.

“The RBL looks forward to working with whoever is elected to be the next Mayor, local authorities and others to help improve the lives of the Armed Forces Community.”