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Definitions of Domestic Violence and Abuse

The Home Office definition of domestic abuse and violence is considered to be any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can include, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

 

Other forms of abuse, which may not be violence, but equally as abusive, are considered to be controlling or coercive behaviour which is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent.

Controlling behaviour is either:

  • isolating them from sources of support
  • exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain
  • depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
  • regulating their everyday behaviour

 

Coercive behaviour is either:

  • an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation
  • other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim

 

No distinction should be made between psychological (mental) abuse and physical abuse when the Home Office assesses if a person has been the victim of domestic violence or abuse.

 

The Royal Navy has a policy of zero tolerance of Domestic Abuse and has procedures in place to provide confidential advice and support to those subjected to it. The Naval Service Family and People Support (NS FPS) or SSAFA can be approached in the first instance, they will provide a caseworker who will listen and provide information. This is a confidential service; they will not speak to your partner’s ship or unit unless you ask them to or unless there are child protection issues.

 

They will need to make sure that you and any children you have are safe, and will work with other agencies to protect you and your family.

 

For details of how to contact NS FPS, click here.

For details of how to contact SSAFA, click here.

Eligibility

The domestic violence rules do not apply to:

  • the spouse, unmarried partner or registered civil partner of a sponsor who has only limited leave to enter or remain in the UK
  • fiancé or fiancées or proposed civil partners
  • people seeking asylum in the UK
  • the spouse or civil partner of a foreign or Commonwealth citizen who is serving, or has served, in Her Majesty’s (HM) forces and who has not completed a minimum of 4 years’ reckonable service

 

The domestic violence rules do apply to:

  • A partner of a serving member of HM Forces who is a victim of domestic violence are:
    • they had leave as the partner of a British citizen in HM Forces
    • they had leave as a partner of a foreign or Commonwealth citizen serving in HM Forces with at least four years’ reckonable service at the date of application

 

Partners of Foreign or Commonwealth members of HM Forces with 4 years’ service may make an application for settlement based on domestic violence, this is because 4 years’ service is the point at which the sponsor could settle if discharged from HM Forces.

 

Domestic abuse may be conducted by other family members, and not just the partner.  Those who are directly related to the victim, may be in-laws or step-family.

 

If an applicant submits evidence to show that their relationship has broken down because they have been subjected to domestic violence from someone other than their partner, they can still qualify for settlement under the rule. Evidence must clearly show that the violence has been the reason for the breakdown of the relationship between the applicant and their partner, for example where the person who abuses the applicant is a member of the partner’s family and against whom the partner offers no protection.

 

It should be noted that the spouse of a serving member of HM Forces who is a victim of Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse does not have to wait until the end of the probationary period.

 

Neither do they have to rely on the serving member to support their application.

 

A victim of Domestic Violence or abuse may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on their own merit, so long as the incidents of DV have been evidenced.

 

Evidence to substantiate must include at least one of the following:

  • Non-molestation/protection order, Court conviction or relevant police caution

 

If they are not able to provide any of the mentioned pieces of evidence, they should provide at least two of the following:

  • Medical report, an undertaking given to a court by the perpetrator, a police report, letter from social services, letter from domestic violence support organisation or refuge, MARAC risk assessment, or other (UWO letters of evidenced incidences).
Evidence of Domestic Abuse

The types of evidence which may be produced and factors which should be taken into account by the Home Office when considering whether the evidence produced meets the requirements for a grant of leave can be found in the Home Office guidance. To see this evidence click here and go to pages 22 to 29.

 

Application process: You need to apply on form SET (DV). For the form and further guidance, click here. The Home Office fee is £2389 per applicant. If you can show that you are destitute, you do not have to pay the fee. You will need to evidence this – please see the next section.

Fee Concession & Application for Recourse to Public Funds
Eligibility and criteria for those applying for leave to remain under the destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and you do not have an income of your own and you find yourself destitute, you may be eligible for the Home Office fee to be waived and granted access to public funds.

 

This section informs you of the requirements which must be met for an applicant to qualify for temporary leave outside the immigration rules, under the destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession.

 

Definition of Destitution

A person is considered destitute by the Home Office when they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it, or they cannot meet their essential living needs.  It could also be when a person has demonstrated, by way of evidence, that they would be rendered destitute by payment of the Home Office fee, because whilst they have adequate accommodation and can meet their essential living needs:

  • they have no additional disposable income such that either:
    • they could pay the Home Office fee; but
    • payment would compromise their ability to continue to accommodate themselves adequately or meet their other essential living needs

 

From 1 April 2012, those who meet the DDV concession criteria are granted 3 months leave outside the immigration rules (LOTR) with a condition code that does not restrict access to public funds.  Only those eligible to apply for leave under section DVILR under Paragraph 40 of Appendix Armed Forces are eligible for the DDV concession.

 

The concession only applies to applicants who have previously been granted leave to enter or remain as the spouse; civil partner; unmarried or same-sex partner of any of the following:

  • British citizen;
  • Settled person;
  • Member of HM forces who is exempt from immigration control and has served for at least 4 years

 

The Home Office will reject an application for the DDV concession, from those whose partner:

  • is not at the time of application a British citizen or settled in the UK;
  • was not at the time when the leave as a partner was first granted, a British citizen or settled in the UK;
  • is not a serving member of HM forces, considered exempt from immigration control with 4 years’ reckonable service.

 

The concession applies to those who from 1 December 2013 were last granted leave under paragraph 23, 26, 28 or 32 of Appendix Armed Forces and are the partner of a member of HM forces who is British, settled, still serving and considered exempt from immigration control and has at least 4 years’ service as a regular, or was granted limited leave to remain on discharge; and

  • claim that their relationship with their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex- partner has broken down as a result of domestic violence;
  • claim to need access to funds in order to leave the relationship;
  • intend to apply for indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence under paragraph 40 of Appendix Armed Forces or section DVILR of Appendix

 

To benefit under the destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession, victims of domestic violence and abuse who need access to public funds, must complete and submit the LOTR (DVV) form to the Home Office by email.

  • For online application form and guidance, click here.
  • To apply for destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession, click here.

 

In order to qualify for a grant of limited leave under the DDV concession, an applicant must:

  • have submitted a completed LOTR (DDV)
  • meet the eligibility requirements of the DDV concession

 

Those who meet the criteria of the DDV concession should be granted leave outside the rules (LOTR) (DDV) for 3 months on conditions permitting employment and immediate access to benefits (code 1A).

 

The Home Office will send the applicant a letter which confirms they have been granted LOTR (DDV) and issue a status document by way of a biometric residence permit (BRP).

 

After being granted 3 months leave to remain, with access to public funds and a concession of the Home Office fee, the applicant should submit their SET(DV) application before their 3 months’ limited leave expires. The Home Office encourages those who are granted 3 months’ LOTR to submit a SET(DV) application within 8 weeks of their initial grant to make sure their case is considered before their leave under the concession expires.

 

If an applicant fails to submit their SET(DV) application within the 3 months limited leave, they will become an overstayer and may become subject to removal.

 

It is important to note that if leave is granted under the DDV concession, the applicant must make a separate application for Department for Work and Pension (DWP) benefits or housing benefits and will be assessed against the normal DWP criteria.

 

A grant of leave under the DDV concession is recognition that an applicant is destitute at the time the request is decided and does not guarantee that any subsequent application for leave under the domestic violence rules will be granted.

Summary
  • Part 6 of Appendix Armed Forces applies to partners of members of HM forces who are the victim of domestic violence.
  • Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse incidents must be documented & evidence produced.
  • The dependant is not required to meet the 5 years’ probationary period.
  • Application form Set (DV) cost £2389 per applicant
  • If destitute, they may apply for a concession of the fee and recourse to public funds.
Army Families Federation (AFF) F & C Support Project

The AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist is an OISC Level 2 qualified advisor who has been providing qualified immigration advice and practical support for Army families for a number of years. She has developed specialist knowledge of supporting F&C victims of Domestic Abuse (DA). Through a close working relationship with NFF, AFF are able to offer this specialist DA support to Royal Navy, Royal Marines personnel and their families.

 

Funded by the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund, AFF is able to provide practical one-to-one support to F&C families dealing with domestic abuse.

 

The support can be offered in any location in the UK or overseas. AFF will do all the substantive work required to make the applications, including collating all evidence, completing the forms and writing letters of representation.

 

If you are currently supporting an F&C spouse in these circumstances who needs immigration advice, then please contact AFF at fcsupport@aff.org.uk

 

If you are the spouse in need of support, you can contact AFF directly, but they would prefer that you are referred to them via a NS FPS or SSAFA caseworker.

 

Click here for further guidance on domestic abuse for the Armed Forces community.

Qualified Immigration Advice

Applications made for ILR as a victim of domestic abuse, or those made under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, should not be attempted without qualified immigration advice.

 

If you use the AFF support project detailed above then the AFF’s F&C Specialist is a qualified advisor, registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to provide immigration advice up to Level 2. If you wish to use a different advisor, then you should ensure they are also registered with the OISC to provide advice up to Level 2 or 3. Currently the Naval Families Federation are only qualified to level 1 and therefore can’t assist with these types of applications. NFF have a close working relationship with GBS UK Immigration who are based in Portsmouth and have a specialist in Armed Forces Immigration law. For their contact details and to see if they can assist you please see here.

 

Can I get Legal Aid?

Since April 2013, Legal Aid has only been available for applications under the DV rules.  Legal advisors can claim some of their costs back for these cases, but there is a cap on the amount they can claim. You may find that the amount of work they are willing to do is limited to completing the application form. Law centres are a good place to start if there is one in your area.

 

What should the immigration adviser do?

A good immigration adviser will begin by assessing the merits of your case. If they consider that your chances of being able to remain in the UK are very slim, then they should inform you of this. If you decide to go ahead with an application, then your immigration adviser should assist with the following:

 

  • A detailed statement: This provides the opportunity for you to put the facts of your case to the decision maker (the UKBA caseworker). Your immigration adviser should draft this statement using the information you have given them. It should tell your story in a compelling and persuasive way so that the caseworker will be convinced of the merits of the case.
  • Supporting documents: Your immigration adviser should give advice on the evidence that needs to be provided with your application. The facts that you put in the statement above will need to be corroborated by other types of evidence, usually documents such as bank statements, photos, bills, letters, and reports – medical or other expert reports. A UKBA decision maker is not required to accept the facts in the statement if they can reasonably be expected to be supported by other evidence.
  • Letter of representation: The adviser should also prepare a letter in which they give the legal argument for your right to remain in the UK. They will refer to immigration rules where appropriate, or to other, similar, cases where judges have ruled in favour of a right to remain.

 

What happens if my application is refused?

If you are given the right to appeal, then your adviser should discuss the merits of this with you. They should take you through the process and the timescales.

You will only have ten days following receipt of your refusal notice (Notice of Decision) to lodge the appeal. On average, it takes six months for an appeal to be heard at the immigration tribunal. Appeals can be very expensive and are not covered by Legal Aid.

 

Complaints about immigration advisers

If you think your immigration adviser has given you poor advice or an inadequate service, you can complain to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

You can complain about any adviser, solicitor, barrister, OISC regulated adviser or unregulated person operating within the UK and providing advice and services relating to immigration to the UK

Useful information and links
  • To see the guidance that the Home Office follows when considering applications from people who claim to have been victims of domestic violence or abuse, click here.
  • For guidance on the eligibility and criteria for those applying for leave to remain under the destitution domestic violence (DDV) concession, click here.
  • ‘No defence for abuse’: a strategy to tackle domestic abuse within the defence community. To see the MOD strategy, click here.
  • For information and guidance for those affected by or dealing with cases of domestic abuse in the Armed Forces community, click here.
  • For information about domestic violence and abuse in the Armed Forces and the help available to victims, perpetrators and the chain of command,  click here.
  • For information for Armed Forces personnel and their families who are stationed overseas, click here.
  • For feedback on common concerns raised by victims and perpetrators from the Armed Forces Community, click here.
  • Handbook to help and inform civilian support services who are working with Armed Forces families affected by domestic abuse, click here.
Posted on: 3rd September, 2020

Updated on: 18th March 2021

If you have lost your partner or parent, please contact NFF for support, guidance, and advice. Below are the basic requirements of the Immigration Rules relating to an application for either Indefinite Leave to Enter or Indefinite Leave to Remain on the basis that your HM Forces partner or parent has lost their life whilst in service.

 

Understandably, you will be grieving and possibly in shock at the loss of your loved one and should have the support of the Naval Service Families and People Support (NS FPS).

 

Every effort will be made to support you through this very sad and difficult time.  NFF can assist with the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain or Enter and provide you with any help, support, guidance and if deemed in your best interests, assist you with obtaining support from external agencies.

 

Under the Immigration Rules, a partner is considered a person, other than a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. Therefore, if you are in the United Kingdom and you are a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of a serving member who dies, you will not be eligible to apply for settlement on the basis that your HM Forces fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner has lost their life.   However, please seek NFF advice, there may be other options open to you, especially if you had a child together or if you are a woman and are currently pregnant and expecting the HM Forces person’s child.

Bereaved Partner

A partner qualifies for settlement as a bereaved partner if they make a valid application and their deceased partner was either:

  • a British citizen in HM Forces (including one who has naturalised after five years reckonable service)
  • a foreign or Commonwealth citizen serving in HM Forces
  • a discharged member of HM Forces who is a British citizen or had been granted or was seeking at the same time as the applicant leave to enter or remain under paragraphs:
  • 276E-QA of the Immigration Rules – click here then on HM Forces
  • 13-19 of Appendix Armed Forces

 

Paragraphs 276E – QA of the Immigration Rules this relates to Part 7 of the Immigration Rules concerning applicants who originally applied before 1st December 2013.

 

And, at the time of their partner’s death, their relationship met the following criteria:

  • they and their partner:
    • were both aged 18 or over
    • were not within the prohibited degree of relationship (not be so closely related) that their marriage would not be valid in the UK
    • intended to live together permanently
    • had met in person
    • the relationship was genuine and subsisting and each of the parties intended to live together permanently

 

For this Part, a reference to a member of HM Forces includes a former member of HM Forces who was discharged more than 2 years ago if that member of HM Forces:

  • is a British citizen; or
  • was granted leave under Appendix Armed Forces; and
  • the applicant had leave under Appendix Armed as the partner or child of a member of HM Forces prior to the sponsor’s discharge.

 

Please note that you do not have to pass the Life in the UK test nor the B1 English Language Requirement for a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain on the basis of being a bereaved partner.

 

Indefinite Leave to Enter

Entry Clearance and Indefinite Leave to Enter as a bereaved partner of a member of HM Forces will be granted to an applicant who:

  • is outside the United Kingdom as a result of accompanying their sponsor on an overseas posting;
  • has made a valid application for entry clearance and indefinite leave to enter as the bereaved partner of a member of HM Forces;
  • does not fall to be refused on the grounds of suitability under paragraph 8 or 9; and
  • meets the general eligibility requirements in paragraph 34. (Bereaved partners)

 

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain as a bereaved partner of a member of HM Forces will be granted to an applicant who:

  • is in the United Kingdom;
  • has made a valid application for indefinite leave to remain as the bereaved partner of a member of HM Forces;
  • does not fall to be refused on the grounds of suitability; and
  • meets the general eligibility requirements.

 

Application Process
  • The application is done on form SET (AF)
  • NFF can assist and advise you with this process
Bereaved Child

The requirements for qualification as a bereaved child are that they have made a valid application and the parent who has died was at the time of their death:

 

  • a British citizen in HM Forces including one who has naturalised after five years reckonable service
  • a foreign or Commonwealth citizen serving in HM Forces
  • a discharged member of HM Forces who is a British citizen or had been granted or was seeking at the same time as the applicant leave to enter or remain under paragraphs:

 

They must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • Their other parent must also:
    • be a member of HM Forces who was granted or is being granted at the same time, leave to enter or remain under paragraphs 23-33 click here, which relates to those were in the process of applying for Limited Leave or 35-37 of Appendix Armed Forces click here , which relates to those applying for Indefinite Leave or paragraph 276S, V or AE of the Immigration Rules or under the concession for bereaved partners of foreign or Commonwealth members of HM Forces; this relates to Part 7 of the Immigration Rules concerning applicants who originally applied before 1st December 2013.
    • have died
  • the HM Forces parent has had sole responsibility for the applicant’s upbringing
  • there are serious or compelling family or other considerations which would make exclusion of the child from the UK undesirable and suitable arrangements have been made for the applicant’s care

 

Indefinite Leave to Enter

Entry clearance and indefinite leave to enter as a bereaved child of a member of HM Forces will be granted to an applicant who was either:

  • under 18 years of age at the date of application; or
  • aged 18 or over at the date of application and was last granted leave to enter or remain under paragraph 43 or 47 of this Appendix or paragraph 276AH of these Rules;
    • is outside the United Kingdom;
    • is not married or in a civil partnership;
    • has not formed an independent family unit;
    • is not leading an independent life;
    • has made a valid application for entry clearance and indefinite leave to enter as the bereaved child of a member of HM Forces;
    • does not fall to be refused on the grounds of suitability under paragraph 8 or 9; and
    • meets the general eligibility requirements in paragraph 51.

 

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite leave to remain as a bereaved child of a member of HM Forces will be granted to an applicant who:

  • is in the United Kingdom;
  • was either:
    • under 18 years of age at the date of application; or
    • aged 18 or over at the date of application and was last granted leave to enter or remain under paragraph 43 or 47 of this Appendix or paragraph 276AH of these Rules; and
  • is not married or in a civil partnership;
  • has not formed an independent family unit;
  • is not leading an independent life;
  • has made a valid application for indefinite leave to remain as the bereaved child of a member of HM Forces;
  • does not fall to be refused on the grounds of suitability under paragraph 8 or 9; and
  • meets the general eligibility requirements in paragraph 51 click here

 

Children’s Application Process
  • The application is done on form SET (AF) 
  • NFF can assist and advise you with this process
Bereavement Support
Naval Families Federation (NFF)

The NFF has a comprehensive webpage dedicated to Bereavement Support for serving spouses and children. Click here for links to a wide range of support services that may help during this distressing time.

 

Naval Service Family and People Support (NSFPS)

For any “death in service”, the family will receive dedicated compassionate support from a member of NS FPS. For further information on the support that they offer and their contact details, click here.

 

Government guidance

Emotional and practical support for bereaved families and loved ones is available from government departments and approved charities

  • Click here for guidance for those who have lost their serving person.
  • Click here for information on bereavement compensation.
Posted on: 2nd September, 2020

 

A new helpline providing support for Service personnel experiencing or witnessing bullying, harassment or discrimination has been set up by the Ministry of Defence to clamp down on instances of unacceptable behaviour in the Armed Forces.

 

The helpline, which will go live in September, will be staffed 24/7 by trained bullying, harassment and discrimination advisers and qualified counsellors, who will provide emotional support, information and guidance to callers.

 

Individuals will be able to report incidents anonymously to independent advisers and seek help on how to take issues forward, including through local support networks or the service complaints system, where necessary.

 

Establishing the bullying and harassment helpline was one of the key recommendations of Air Chief Marshal Wigston’s review into behaviour across defence that was published last year. The report found that while the majority of personnel behave appropriately, there is still an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in the military. Thirty-six recommendations were made as part of the report, all of which have been accepted by the Ministry of Defence.

 

To evaluate the success of current measures and ensure progress continues to be made at speed, an independent review of Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) anti-bullying work will be led by Danuta Gray, a Non-Executive Board Member and Chair of the People Committee at the MOD. In this role she has overseen processes for managing the careers of senior military officers and senior civil servants, with a specific focus on behaviour and incentives across Defence. The review will commence on the first anniversary of the Wigston review (Wednesday 15 July 2020) and will run for approximately 3 months.

 

Read the government’s press release here

 

Uploaded on: 2nd September, 2020

 

On the 1st September ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’, a new offer of support for all Royal Navy families, will officially launch.

 

Strengthening Families – By Your Side has been developed by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and Naval Families Federation (NFF), in partnership with the Royal Navy, Kings Active Foundation, Home-Start UK and Relate. This project is supported by funding over the next three years from the Armed Forces Covenant. In addition to this, the RNRMC have also brought together funded projects from the Naval Children’s Charity, Aggie Weston’s and KIDS to provide a comprehensive support package to service families whenever and wherever they need it.

 

This groundbreaking partnership will work collaboratively to address some of the key issues underlined in the RNRMC’s ‘Understanding of Need’ report, primarily looking at the gap between the support available for dispersed families nationwide compared to support available for those living in or near base ports.

 

 

Professor Janet Walker, who has been instrumental in the project’s development, said:

“Increasingly, as Royal Navy families choose to live away from their home base, many are experiencing loneliness and social isolation, the absence of a military peer group who understand and share the same pressures, relationship difficulties caused by time spent apart during deployments and weekending, and the unpredictability of home-comings and family time.”

“‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’ can break down the barriers to seeking support and will assist members of Navy families, wherever you live and whoever you are, to access confidential and personalised practical and emotional help.”

 

The importance of support for dispersed families was echoed by Anna Wright, CEO of NFF:

“From my perspective the most exciting aspect of this project is that it supports our dispersed community.  With 39% living away from bases, having located in every county in the UK, it is essential that RNRM families can access appropriate support on the ground. And being able to self-refer to this support as a naval family is vital. We are delighted to be working with a group of charities that are collaborative, flexible and committed to supporting the naval lifestyle.

 

Mandy Lindley, Director of Relationships and Funding at the RNRMC added:

“By working together, we can deliver the improvement in quality of life that is needed by our service families. Strengthening Families – By Your Side is about early intervention and prevention, providing a range of services leading to improved family cohesion, conflict resolution, health and well-being, and increased levels of happiness.”

 

Further information

For more information about the full range of support available and how to access it please visit: rnrmc.org.uk/how-we-help/families-and-relationships

 

Posted on: 1st September, 2020

 

Researchers at Bath Spa University are conducting a new study to understand what helps or hinders teaching careers for spouses and partners of British Armed Forces personnel. Findings from the study will inform teacher training providers, like Bath Spa University, that want to recruit and support trainee teachers with a military-affiliated background.

 

Background

Research at Bath Spa University has identified specific challenges faced by mature students with a military-affiliated background, including military wives (Macer & Chadderton, 2020). Recent news reports suggest an increasing number of people are now considering joining the teaching profession since the Covid-19 lockdown. However, little is known about the experiences of spouses and partners of British Armed Forces personnel who want to pursue or return to a career in teaching.

 

About the Study

This study is supported by the three Families Federations and is being conducted via an online survey. To take part in the study, participants should be:

  • 18 years old or above
  • In a relationship (married/civil partnership or other) to a serving member of the British Armed Forces
  • Not serving in the British Armed Forces

Please click here to participate in the research survey. The survey will close on Friday 2nd October 2020.

 

Get in touch

If you would like to know more, please get in touch with Dr Mel Macer, School of Education, Bath Spa University at m.macer@bathspa.ac.uk

 

Posted on: 14th August, 2020

The following update from DCYP may assist people who are considering assignments to the USA with their children, and those who have clearance but have not yet traveled with their families:

BDSUS / DCYP EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION AWARENESS UPDATE AS AT 5 AUGUST 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been globally unprecedented and the situation remains uncertain. The COVID-19 pandemic in the US is still widespread and shows no signs of reducing in the near term (0-3 months). The pandemic continues to impact all aspects of day to day life and we know families are understandably concerned about children’s education for the forthcoming 20/21 school year. Defence recognises this complicates decision making for those personnel and their families considering or preparing to deploy to the US soon and that for many the situation will be deeply unsettling.

Due to the size of the US and delegation of decision making both to and below State level, varying approaches will be seen in different locations with a mixture of classroom, home and hybrid leaning. All States and school districts are routinely and regularly reviewing the situation and when State health authorities consider it safe and appropriate, schools will re-open. The unpredictability of this virus makes it difficult to predict when this will happen in each location. Decision making is also politically influenced.

BDSUS, together with the MOD’s Directorate for Children and Young People (DCYP), are committed to doing everything we can to provide advice and guidance during this time to allow MOD military and civilian parents to make informed decisions.

DCYP have conducted an initial review of the planned education provision for the Fall (Autumn) Semester in areas with the highest proportion of MOD children[1]. The primary concern of all school districts was the safety of children and staff, with their positions being informed by public health agencies. DCYP found that in all but one location the published planning for online provision established by school districts appeared adequate, meaning that it meets a level that ensures children have opportunities to engage with learning to a sufficient standard. Insufficient information was available from Clark County, Nevada to enable an informed judgement at the time of assessment.

Notwithstanding this assessment, the effect of COVID-19 on education for the Fall Semester 20/21 has been significant. Nearly all States will be required to maintain virtual lessons or adopt a blended learning format. While at present there are also no guarantees that the UK Autumn academic term will be uninterrupted, and comparisons between the US and UK are difficult to make due to this uncertainty, the transition to a new education system is challenging for children in the best of circumstances. With the current context of remote learning in many locations likely until at least the beginning of 2021, and potentially for the full academic year, schools are limited in their ability to provide new students with the normal support and induction, thereby increasing the risk of unsuccessful transitions. It is therefore important for Service and UKBC parents to carefully consider whether they continue accompanied with a planned assignment to the US, if they have children of school age.

To mitigate this risk, DCYP have identified an online tutoring programme called Tutor.com, utilised by the US Department of Defense for military families, that provides support for students in grades K-12. This tutoring service can be more flexible than traditional tutoring models, in that it responds to need rather than a rigid timetabling of sessions each week. BDSUS is urgently scoping the potential for our military and UKBC personnel to have temporary funded access to this learning capability for September. More advice on this will hopefully follow.

Parents should fully familiarise themselves with the planned format of learning being adopted by their receiving school district. They should also be prepared to support their children with home learning on arrival (as they will have been doing in the UK earlier this year).

For military personnel, parents may decide to explore other avenues for schooling their children such as CEA, retention of current service accommodation for the family etc.  BDSUS leadership will be writing to senior leaders within MOD and the single Services to encourage flexibility wherever possible, although decisions will inevitably need to be made on a case-by-case basis.  Advice should be sought on these issues from the individual’s own chain of command. Service personnel also have interim arrangements for additional allowances for children already in boarding school because of COVID-19, as per the Defence People AF Remuneration directed letter dated, 4 Jun 2020 (here).

We also recognise some parents will wish to investigate private education options within the US, for which two thirds funding is available for UKBC parents. However, it should be noted that continuity of ‘in-person’ tutoring is also not guaranteed in private schools and, due both to an increased demand and COVID-19 mitigation measures, we know that many private schools in the areas where we have personnel are no longer offering places for the 20/21 academic year.

Further advice for both Service Personnel and UKBC can be sought in the first instance from CEAS at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.gov.uk (CEAS helpline: 01980 618244 or 94344 8244)

Or

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Date:  5 Aug 20

 

In 2019, the then Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, commissioned The Rt. Hon. Mark Francois MP and his research team, to produce an independent report on improving Retention within the Armed Forces.

 

The review team gathered evidence to inform the study in a number of ways, including email consultations and visits to military bases. The NFF was delighted to host the team at HMS EXCELLENT to meet with Service personnel and spouses/partners at a forum during the consultation period.

 

The report, ‘Stick or Twist?’, which has been seen by the Prime Minister, is now available. 

 

It produces 14 specific recommendations to help improve Retention in HM Armed
Forces. These include reviewing the degree of operational tempo, pay and allowances, childcare and
the maintenance of Service Family Accommodation. Examples below:

 

  • It must be clearly acknowledged that the pressures on family/personal life remain the
    single biggest driver for people to leave HM Armed Forces and it is realistically unlikely
    that the problems of Retention can be ameliorated unless this challenge is faced head
    on. This means the Department must look again at both its alert states and its high tempo
    of recycling personnel in order to seek to achieve a more realistic work/life balance –
    without compromising key operations. (recommendation 2)

 

  • The cost and availability of childcare is now a material reason why Service personnel are
    leaving the Armed Forces and Defence needs to think innovatively in order to provide
    increased capacity in childcare, including “out of hours”, and also needs to ensure that this
    is a cost which even junior ranks can realistically afford. (recommendation 5)

 

Commenting on the findings of the “Stick or Twist?” report, Mark Francois MP said:

“My team and I have worked for over a year to provide proposals to improve Retention. Some of these, such as extending the Forces Help to Buy Scheme and expanding Childcare for service personnel are thankfully already being actioned. We have made further proposals, including taking Service Family Accommodation (SFA) away from the failing Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and vesting it in a dedicated Forces Housing Association (FHA) instead. This new entity would be optimised to provide decent, affordable accommodation for service personnel and their families and would be run in their interests, not that of the MoD bureaucracy. However, there is always more to do, in order to persuade personnel to “Stick” rather than to “Twist” and dare I say it, Remain in HM Armed Forces”.

 

Click here to listen to an interview with our CEO’s reaction to the report from an episode of Sitrep via BFBS Radio (23rd July, 12:12 onwards). The Naval Families Federation (NFF) welcome your thoughts on the report, please do contact us.

 

Posted on: 22nd July, 2020
Last updated on: 14th August, 2020

 

 

 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce £200-million new government funding for the UK Armed Forces’ housing and accommodation.

 

Thousands of UK Armed Forces families across the UK will have their housing and accommodation improved and renovated thanks to nearly £200-million of new Government funding, announced last Friday (17th July) by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

On a joint visit to Catterick Garrison, the Ministers chatted to soldiers about the ways the improvements will help them. Over 5,000 personnel, plus their families will have homes modernised with new kitchens, bathrooms and furnishings including re-roofing to reduce the risk of mould and damp.

As part of the funding injection 3,500 service homes will be upgraded as well as single living quarters. This will improve life for UK Armed Forces personnel deployed at home and abroad to keep the nation safe, including in the fight to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The work will also make UK Armed Forces estates more environmentally friendly. New windows and doors will provide better insulation, energy efficient boilers will drive down bills, and solar panels and electric vehicle charging points will reduce the carbon footprint.

Families with young children will benefit from new play areas, roads will be resurfaced and energy efficient street lighting will help modernise sites as part of the funding.

The Defence Secretary invited the Chancellor to Catterick Garrison last week, which will benefit from investment in Service Family Accommodation, to announce the news.

 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“Our Armed Forces work incredibly hard to keep our nation safe, and so it is only right that they have a place they feel proud to call home.

“From introducing a generous Forces Help to Buy scheme to piloting a new rented accommodation model, we have made enormous steps in recent years to offer flexible housing for a modern workforce.

“This latest investment will benefit thousands of our personnel and their families, providing the standard of living they deserve.”

 

Improving accommodation and facilities across military estates will also be part of bold new plans, including replacing 30 WW2 accommodation blocks in Longmoor, Pirbright, Westdown, Knook, Nesscliffe, Castlemartin Camps and providing new accommodation for on-call personnel in Northern Ireland.

 

The investment is expected to sustain around 2,000 jobs through the work on housing improvements including plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators. This will be delivered through the existing National Housing Prime contract. Upgrades will begin in late summer and will be delivered over a period of two years.

 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

“Day in, day out, our Armed Forces make huge personal sacrifices for our country, and it is our duty to ensure they have the best conditions possible.

“This news doesn’t just mean service homes across the country will be upgraded, but will see 2,000 jobs in sectors where they are needed the most, like plumbing and decorating – delivering our Plan for Jobs.”

 

CEO Naval Families Federation, Anna Wright said:

“Having a decent standard of accommodation is fundamental to serving personnel and their families feeling valued by the nation for their work and the sacrifices they make and this is something we have campaigned for, for some time. That funding of £200M has been secured is hugely welcome.”

 

Over the last four years £530-million has been invested in improvements to Service Family Accommodation. The additional £200-million funding package will continue to improve the standard of both homes for Service families and single living accommodation on military bases.

Improvements to accommodation sit alongside a suite of recent changes to military accommodation to make it more accessible and flexible for personnel and their families.

The MOD recently introduced new flexible working arrangements, expanded offerings to cohabiting couples and extended the Forces Help to Buy scheme until the end of 2022, giving our UK Armed Forces the chance to get a foot on the housing ladder. This has allowed military personnel to borrow a deposit of up to half of their annual salary, interest free, to contribute towards buying a home, moving house, or building an extension.

This follows the announcement last week that military children will be entitled to free breakfast and after-school childcare as part of ongoing measures to further support the UK Armed Forces and their loved ones.

 

Funding details - infographic

 

 

Posted on: 20th July, 2020
Updated on: 1st October, 2020

 

The government has announced a 12-week consultation seeking views on how to remove the discrimination caused by the transitional rules which meant older Service Personnel (SP) remained in their legacy schemes when other, younger, SP were transferred to the reformed scheme in 2015. 

 

In 2015 the government implemented reforms to all the main public service pension schemes, including the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. The reforms included a policy of transitional protection that meant members closest to retirement stayed in their old schemes. The Court of Appeal later found the policy to be discriminatory, primarily against younger members, and so since then the government has been working to address the discrimination. Whilst the simplest option would be to put public service pension members back in their legacy schemes, the Government has been clear that it will not do this as a significant number of personnel will be better off in the reformed (2015) schemes. Therefore, the final policy design needs to allow members a choice of which scheme is better for them.

 

The public service pensions consultation is the next stage in the process to remove the discrimination identified by the courts in the 2015 pension reforms. The changes proposed in the consultation to remove the discrimination will apply across all of the main public service pension schemes and provide members with a choice of which scheme benefits they would like to receive for the remedy period.

 

Scheme members who will be in scope are those who had service on or before 31 March 2012 and on or after 1 April 2015. This includes any pre-31 March 2012 re-joiners with a qualifying break in Service of less than 5 years. This includes those members who are currently serving and in-scope personnel who have left the service since 1 April 2015.  Members who were originally covered by the transitional protection will also be provided with a choice of which scheme benefits they would prefer to receive for the remedy period.

 

The remedy period is the time period for which members will be able to retrospectively choose which scheme benefits they will receive. It will run from 1 April 2015 which is when the reforms were introduced, until 31 March 2022 which is the point when treatment will be equalised going forward. This is because the government also proposes that, with effect from 1 April 2022, all those who continue in service will do so as members of the AFPS 15 irrespective of whether they previously had transitional protection or not.

 

The Government and the Ministry of Defence have issued communications on the consultation, the options and impacts on pension schemes. Service Personnel and families are recommended to read these communications which can be accessed through MODNET or directly on the Government’s website.

 

Posted on: 17th July, 2020

The Naval Families Federation has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the childcare challenges for serving families since it carried out its first childcare survey in 2016, and its follow-up survey earlier this year (which will be published shortly). We are very grateful to everyone who responded so generously with their time and thoughts. You have allowed us to represent your experiences with authority and in detail to the Government, the Royal Navy and other stakeholders.

 

We are delighted that the announcement has been made of a new offer of free ‘wraparound’ childcare, to be piloted from September.

 

RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire will be the first bases to offer the scheme, with service personnel based in Catterick and Plymouth able to access the pilot scheme from January 2021. We will update you with further details of the Plymouth pilot as soon as these become available.

 

While we very warmly welcome this news, we are aware that wraparound care is only one aspect of this complex issue. We will continue to work hard to represent your experiences and challenges in all areas of childcare.

 

  • Read more about the announcement here.
  • Find out more about childcare for Service children here.
  • Click here to listen to an interview with our CEO’s reaction to the announcement from an episode of Sitrep via BFBS Radio (23rd July, 12:12 onwards).
Updates
November 2020

Royal Navy Wraparound Childcare (WAC) pilot for eligible Service Personnel assigned to the Plymouth area

 

The Wraparound Childcare (WAC) pilot provides funding to eligible parent(s) with children between the ages of 4 to 11 years old with up to 20 hours per week of free before and after school childcare during term time.

 

Parent(s) can choose their own OFSTED, (or equivalent), registered childcare provider. The first pilot started in the autumn term 2020 and included Service personnel assigned to RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton. In January 2021, the pilot will be extended to include Service personnel assigned to the Plymouth area.

 

The second pilot is for Service Personnel (Tri-Service, Regular and Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment)) who are assigned to the Plymouth area, and have child /children aged 4 to 11 years old who are in school and/or being home schooled at the start of the spring term. Those whose Assignment Orders have a report for duty date between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 may also apply.

 

At the start of the pilot, the Service person and their partner, or a sole parent in a lone parent family, must be:

  • In paid employment, or re-starting work within the next 31 days.
  • Working at least 16 hours each per week.
  • Earning a weekly income equivalent to 16 hours at the National Minimum or Living Wage.
  • Financially responsible for a child who usually lives with them, unless separated due to Service commitments or are on unaccompanied assignments.
  • Each earning less than £100K per year.

 

You can only claim for WAC if you are using registered, regulated and inspected providers who are eligible to use Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) or Childcare Vouchers.

 

Further guidance will be published shortly.

Posted on: 7th July, 2020
Updated on: 18th November, 2020