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Author: NFF

 

In November 2018 there were approximately 11,000 empty Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties across the Defence Estate. This resulted in high rent and maintenance across to the Department. To address this Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Chief Executive, Graham Dalton, committed to an accelerated reduction in the number of empty properties to c5,000 by Autumn 2021. This number (10% of the overall SFA portfolio in the UK) is required to manage the annual churn of between 15,000 – 18,000 Service house moves. Unlike social housing providers, the MOD does not have ‘waiting lists’ for SFA, we need to provide the certainty of an address ahead of Service personnel and their family moving to a new assignment location.

 

Air Commodore Wendy Rothery, Head of Regional Delivery Accommodation said: “Actively reducing the SFA void levels to an appropriate management margin of 10%, enables the MOD to invest limited funds on improving the standard and condition of homes for Service personnel and their families, rather than maintaining properties for which there is no long-term requirement”.

 

The number of empty properties has been allowed to increase over recent years due to a number of reasons:

 

  • DIO have held onto properties in anticipation of returning Service personnel and their families from Germany
  • There is some uncertainty over housing requirements arising from wider Defence programmes, such as Defence Estates Optimisation Programme (DEOP)
  • DIO knew of proposed changes to accommodation policy which would increase eligibility to SFA
  • DIO chose to prioritise limited funding on improving the condition and quality of homes, rather than paying dilapidation and disposals costs for those properties with no long-term requirement.

 

To reduce the number of empty properties in a coherent and phased way, while saving the Department money, DIO have implemented the Void Reduction Plan. Its key components are:

 

  • Continuing the short-term sub-letting of empty properties to the general public. 1,400 properties have already been sub-let across 50 sites generating £15M in rental income. The programme helps the short-term alleviation of the UK’s housing shortage, while allowing the Department to bring properties back should the need arise
  • Handing back an average of 500 properties per year for 7 years to Annington Homes (we lease 38,000 SFA from them in England and Wales)
  • Demolishing 400 properties in Northern Ireland as part of the Good Friday Agreement. These properties are unable to be used by other institutions
  • Housing c750 Services families who returned from Germany last summer
  • Meeting the new eligibility demand from cohabitating couples with more than 250 applicants already housed since April 2109 and a further 100 waiting to move-in.

 

With these steps, and assuming current demand levels are maintained, the number of empty properties will reduce to around 8,500 by March 2020 and 6,000 by March 2021.

 

Posted on: 29th October, 2019

 

A government scheme to help Armed Forces families buy their own homes has been extended until the end of 2022.

 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced today (22nd October 2019) that the Forces Help to Buy initiative will remain open to new applications until 2022.

 

The Forces Help to Buy scheme has lent over £280 million to over 18,000 Armed Forces applicants since its introduction in 2014. The Forces Help to Buy scheme was set up to provide more flexible support to personnel by offering a larger advance of salary to facilitate a home purchase.

 

Serving personnel who meet the criteria can borrow up to half of their annual salary, interest free – up to a maximum of £25,000 – to pay towards a deposit and other costs such as solicitor’s or estate agent’s fees.

 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

‘The extension of this scheme demonstrates the value we put on our Armed Forces and means service personnel can continue to realise the ambition of owning their own home or borrowing to extend.

It has already proven very popular amongst the Armed Forces community and by extending it further we will be able to help many more service personnel make those first steps on the property ladder or expand their home to fit their family.’

 

Last month the MOD announced the official launch of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot, which was rolled out at HMNB Clyde. FAM will provide financial support to service personnel at HMNB Clyde who want to rent or buy a home within a 50 mile radius of the base, giving personnel more choice where and with whom they can live. The scheme forms a part of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or who have served, and their families, are treated fairly and not disadvantaged.

 

The NFF are pleased to see that the Government have listened to feedback from Royal Navy and Royal Marines families.

 

Read the full news story here. If you would like to know more about this scheme and your eligibility, please visit this link here. To read more about the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), visit here.

 

Posted on: 22nd October, 2019

The Naval Families Federation (NFF) listens to and learns from our Royal Navy and Royal Marines families, and takes the information provided to influence change.

 

As part of our work, each year we are asked to set out our formal observations about the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report. Our Chief Executive Anna Wright was by the Defence Select Committee (DSC) to give evidence earlier this year to talk about the Covenant, its delivery, and any concerns on a range of areas that may affect Royal Navy and Royal Marines families.  You can watch the session from the video below (or click here), or read the transcript here.

 

 

The DSC has now published their observations in the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report (2018).

 

We are delighted to see that the Committee has listened to the evidence presented by the NFF on your behalf. Examples include:

 

The impact of separation on family relationships

3.58 & 3.62: Anna Wright from the Naval Families Federation thought that there was little support for families in the community who have the added burden of separation from a loved one. She believed that this was taking a toll on family relationships and impacting on retention within the Armed Forces: “A part of the retention equation is lack of family time—that is a real concern for me”… In response to our report the MoD should clarify what data it has on the number of dispersed families within the Armed Forces. It should take steps to ensure that dispersed families are aware of and have access to support services. The MoD should also continue to monitor whether its flexible working initiative has a positive impact on dispersed families.

 

Service Pupil Premium

4.85 & 4.90: Anna Wright from the Naval Families Federation told us that there was a lack of transparency: “There is a perception that you have the Service Pupil Premium in England and then there is nothing in Scotland. However with GIRFEC [Getting It Right for Every Child] every child is taken care of.” … We commend the publication of the ‘Welcome to’ packs for families moving between devolved administrations. However, we are concerned that the key information contained in these documents is not reaching Service families. We are also concerned at the lack of data from devolved administrations about Service children presented in the Covenant Annual Report. In response to our report, the MoD, in coordination with the devolved administrations, should improve its outreach processes to Service families to ensure that they are fully informed of differences in the way support is provided for Service children across the devolved administrations. The MoD should ensure data from the devolved administrations is collected and incorporated into future Covenant Annual Reports.

 

The above are some of the tangible examples of how your feedback to the NFF can influence policies that affect families, to work and make improvements for our Royal Navy and Royal Marines families.

 

We would encourage you to read through the Reports to learn more about the work being undertaken to support you and your family:

  • Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2018
  • Defence Select Committee Report

 

We welcome your thoughts on the reports. Please do contact us: contactus@nff.org.uk

 

Note: To read about our work with the Armed Forces Covenant and Defence Select Committee in 2018, please click here.

 

Posted on: 26th September, 2019

A brand new ‘one-stop-shop’ website, Forces Families Jobs (FFJ) goes live on 17th September, providing free access to employment or training opportunities to families in the UK’s Armed Forces.

 

 

Finding employment

Apply for jobs with companies and organisations who are ‘Forces family’ friendly – who understand the unique challenges that come with being a family member in the Armed Forces. Use this free-to-use website with confidence knowing that employers advertising their job vacancies have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, or are able to demonstrate their commitment to the Armed Forces. There are already thousands of vacancies on the site, with more being added all the time from companies such as Santander, Amazon UK and Royal Mail.

 

Families can search directly for live jobs online, as well as upload their CV and register for regular updates. There is also the option for employers to be able to match submitted CVs to the roles they are recruiting for, both in the UK and overseas.

 

Training and career support

FFJ is also the place to go for training on how to write a CV, preparing for an interview, business start-up programmes, volunteering roles, funding towards training, career events or insight days. All offered by well-known service charities and or organisations willing to support through training.

 

Who is eligible to use the site?
  • Spouses, partners and adult children, aged 18-25, of currently serving and reserve personnel
  • Spouses, partners, and adult children, aged 18-25, of service personnel who have left the armed forces within the last 12 months
  • Bereaved spouses, partners and adult children, aged 18-25, for up to two years, post service.

 

The need for FFJ

Recent tri-Service research, commissioned by the Army Families Federation and conducted by Warwick Institute for Employment Research resulted in a key recommendation to create a central portal for employment and training opportunities for military spouses and family members.

 

Military spouse, Jane O’Brien said:

“I thought I knew what to expect as a military wife working… I was wrong! It can be a bumpy ride and one that is very unique and underestimated. In 2018 my husband was deployed. It’s the first time I have felt alone and this had an impact on both me and my five year old son.

“However, I was fortunate in that my line manager, a Covenant signatory, was incredibly supportive and this was a huge relief.”

 

Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans said:

“We know that being a military family member often means moving regularly, creating gaps in CVs and frequent job changes.

“This website will provide a one-stop-shop and a forces-friendly facility that will help support service families in accessing job and training opportunities.”

 

Employers looking to join FFJ

Employers who have signed the Covenant are able to use FFJ to promote their job vacancies as a free of charge service – simply contact the FFJ team and they will advise you on next steps to take. Those with training offers are also welcome to contact the FFJ team or their single Service Families Federations.

 

Launch events and further information

The three Families Federations have held events across the UK to celebrate the launch of this new portal. The NFF hosted Armed Forces families, the Chain of Command, Government representatives and businesses in Plymouth, Taunton, Portsmouth and Helensburgh. Please scroll down to browse the galleries.

 

A tri-service project

This website has been produced through collaborative working between the Naval, Army and RAF Families Federations in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence Relationship Management Team.

 

Thanks to our partners who have provided funding and support to enable FFJ to happen:

 

  • Annington Trust
  • Army Benevolent Fund (ABF)
  • Army Central Fund
  • Broadbean
  • Defence Relationship Management (DRM)
  • Manpower Group
  • Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA)
  • Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC)
  • University of Wolverhampton

 

Further Information

Please visit this page to find out how FFJ can benefit you. 

 

Gallery – FFJ National Launch (House of Lords, 17th September 2019)

Click on image to expand. (©Naval Families Federation, 2019)

Gallery – FFJ launch (China Fleet Club, 23rd September 2019)

Click on image to expand. (©Naval Families Federation, 2019)

Gallery – FFJ launch (Thye Castle Hotel Taunton, 24th September 2019)

Click on image to expand. (©Naval Families Federation, 2019)

Gallery – FFJ launch (Spinnaker Tower, 30th September 2019)

Click on image to expand. (©Naval Families Federation, 2019)

Gallery – FFJ launch (Scottish Submarine Centre, 7th October 2019)

Click on image to expand. (©David Wynne, 2019)

Posted on: 17th September, 2019
Updated on: 9th October, 2019

***** EXPIRED ***** 

All of the below events have been held. The NFF is pleased to be part of this tri-Service project and are grateful to receive enthusiastic interest at all of our regional launches. Thank you to those who have attended the event(s) and supported us. Galleries: click here.

 

Forces Families Jobs (FFJ), launched on 17th September, is a ‘one-stop shop’ where Service spouses/partners and family members can apply for jobs directly with employers who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant as well as find signposting to career and training opportunities. This will be your gateway to accessing information about acquiring new skills, upgrading your existing skills or applying directly to employers who are understanding of the unique challenges that come with being a family member of a Serving Person.

 

We are excited to be hosting regional launches close to you, which we hope you will be able to come along to. Please join us to chat about how FFJ can benefit you, followed by an opportunity to network (regional launches only).

 

Regional launches

If you would like to attend one of the following events, please do RSVP via email: Project@nff.org.uk so that we know numbers for catering.

 

Devonport

Date: 23rd September 2019 (Monday)

Time: 1900 – 2100

Venue: China Fleet Club, PL12 6LJ

RSVP date: 18th September

 

Taunton

Date: 24th September 2019 (Tuesday)

Time: 1900 – 2100

Venue: The Castle Hotel, TA1 1NF

RSVP date: 18th September

 

Portsmouth

Date: 30th September 2019 (Monday)

Time: 1930 – 2130

Venue: Spinnaker Tower, PO1 3TT

RSVP date: 25th September

 

Helensburgh

Date: 7th October 2019 (Monday)

Time: 1900 – 2100

Venue: Scottish Submarine Centre, G84 8TR

RSVP date: 2nd October

 

Find us at other events

Lucy Heaver, our Employment Specialist and Policy Adviser, will be attending the following events in the next few weeks. Do come by to find out more about this upcoming online portal.

 

RMB Chivenor Health Fair

Date: 18th September 2019 (Wednesday)

Time: All day

 

RMA Resettlement Fair

Date: 3rd October 2019 (Thursday)

Time: 10:00 – 16:00

Venue: CTCRM Lympstone

Entry: Please register your interest here.

 

We look forward to meeting you!

 

Overseas Accompanied Assignments and School children’s visits – Unaccompanied Minors Flights

Different airlines have different policies regarding unaccompanied minors’ flights. To understand an airline’s specific unaccompanied minors’ policy, have a look on their website. Some airlines provide unaccompanied minors flights services, some airlines will only allow children from the age of 12 to 14 (if they have a letter of consent from their parents) and some airlines will only allow children over the age of 16 to fly unaccompanied. Some airlines will require you to call the airline directly to book for a person under the age of 16, rather than order tickets online.

 

If you cannot find an airline to book an unaccompanied minors flight, MOD policy will fund return flights for one parent to collect their children. Please refer to the following sections in JSP 752 for details:

  • 10.0222: Locations where no Airline Offers an Unaccompanied Minors (UNMIN) Service to/from/within the UK
  • 10.0223: Reimbursement of any Costs Charged by Civilian Airlines for the Moving
    of Unaccompanied Minors (UNMINS)

 

Posted on: 3rd September, 2019

In July 2019, the Naval, Army and RAF Families Federations took the opportunity to submit a joint response to the Department for Education’s call for evidence: ‘Provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and for those who need additional provision: how the financial arrangements work’.

 

The Naval Families Federation advocates on behalf of Royal Navy and Royal Marines families and we support the view that children’s education should not be disadvantaged by their parent’s Service.  In our submission we highlight some of the key issues and challenges that can arise for Armed Forces children who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and suggested a number of recommendations, based on evidence gathered by the three Families Federations. The full report can be accessed here.

 

Posted on: 12th August, 2019

Did you know that spouses/civil partners who accompany their Service partner on an overseas assisgnment are unable to claim Maternity Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if they are not living in the UK?

 

However, you and your spouse/civil partner do have other options, depending on where you are posted to. You can either:

  • claim the local nation’s maternity benefits, if there is a reciprocal agreement in place  or
  • apply for a Ministry of Defence (MOD) ex-gratia payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance. This is the equivalent of Maternity Allowance to Service personnel whose spouses/civil partner accompany them overseas to countries where there is no reciprocal maternity arrangement and who would have otherwise been entitled to receive the Maternity Allowance had they remained in the UK.

The process is to apply for Maternity Allowance in the normal way, ensuring section 8 of the form, where it asks if you are a member of a Service family abroad, is completed. When completed, the form should be sent to the International Pension Centre (IPC) to the address stated on the form (in part 13). The IPC will look at the case and take the appropriate action.

 

There are certain deadlines for claiming maternity benefits from a local nation, so please ensure that you apply promptly and seek advice from the DWP IPC team if you are unsure of the process or time frames. Remember to tell them that you are part of an Armed Forces family.

 

We recommend that, before you complete the form, you might also wish to speak to your Unit Personnel Office and note the contents of:

  • Defence Instruction and Notice – 2018DIN01-026, MoD Ex-Gratia Payments in Lieu of Maternity Allowance (available via Dii only)
  • JSP 752, Chapter 9, Section 14
  • Armed Forces access to Jobcentre Plus services and Armed Forces Champions – Guidance

 

Posted on: 24th July, 2019

The Naval Families Federation exists to give all currently serving Royal Navy/ Royal Marines personnel and their families the opportunity to have their views heard by those in positions of power. We can only represent your opinions and experiences by listening to your feedback. This is why we often attend families’ and open days to meet you and to find out how you are doing. These events are great opportunities for us to understand your ‘lived experience’, and for you to present your views and concerns for us to pass on to, and to challenge, key policy-makers.

 

The following list indicates the upcoming events we will be attending. This list is regularly updated:

Royal Marines Association – Resettlement Fair

Date: 3rd October 2019 (Thu)

Time: 10:00 – 16:00

Location: CTCRM Lympstone

What’s on: One-to-one slot with chosen exhibitors

Entry: Please register your interest here.

Forces Families Jobs

Forces Families Jobs (FFJ – ForcesFamiliesJobs.co.uk) is a ‘one-stop shop’ where Service spouses/partners and family members can apply for jobs directly with employers who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant as well as find signposting to career and training opportunities. If you would like to join us at one of the FFJ regional launches, please refer to this link here.

Posted on: 21st June, 2018
Last updated on: 20th September, 2019

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has announced a range of measures to tackle inappropriate behaviour in the Armed Forces.

 

Measures planned include instilling a shift in culture, led by those responsible for managing day-to-day discipline, as well as overhauling the complaints system so the most serious allegations are investigated quickly and, if appropriate, outside the chain of command. New training and reporting will also be implemented.

 

The announcement follows the publication of a review into inappropriate behaviour in the Forces, conducted by Air Marshal Michael Wigston. Prompted by a number of allegations, the review was designed to analyse Service culture and make recommendations on further action, and the Naval Families Federation was invited to contribute first-hand evidence of the effects of inappropriate behaviours on Naval families to add to the overall picture.

 

The report found that while good behaviour was the norm and Service personnel could by and large be trusted to behave appropriately, there is still an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in the military. A key recommendation was the creation of a new Defence Authority, which will provide centralised oversight on how the recommendations are delivered and share best practice across Defence.

 

It will also have a role in investigating allegations such as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. This change to the complaints system is to ensure the most serious allegations are dealt with quickly and personnel have confidence to step forward – an approach based on similar systems which have proved successful in the Canadian, Australian and American Armed Forces. There will be new ways to  anonymously report inappropriate behaviour through the creation of a hotline, a phone-based app and website forms. The Authority will also be the central point for the coordination of policy relating to inappropriate behaviour, as well as sharing best practice across Defence.

 

To address this, the MOD aims to embed a new culture and set of standards across the Services, including mandatory diversity and inclusion training and a new harassment survey, to be conducted in 2021, that will track data on the culture change across Defence.

 

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Sir Nick Carter and MOD Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove have written to all senior commanders to update them on the review and stress the importance of implementing its findings, and the respective heads of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF are also writing to all staff on the outcome of the review.

 

A copy of the full report can be found here.

 

Posted on: 18th July, 2019