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Armed Forces personnel will no longer have to face cancellation fees for their broadband and media packages when posted overseas or to another part of the UK.

The commitment from the UK’s biggest broadband providers representing 95 per cent of Britain’s broadband market comes into force immediately, and will benefit tens of thousands of Forces households in the UK and abroad.

The change agreed to under the tenets of the Armed Forces Covenant includes BT, EE, Plusnet, Talk Talk, Sky and Virgin Media, who have all committed to treating military personnel fairly when cancelling their contracts.

Up until now, members of the Armed Forces who are deployed overseas or to different parts of the UK not covered by their provider could be forced to pay a cancellation fee. They will no longer have to face this cost and be disadvantaged due to the mobile nature of service life.

 

BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, said:

“Armed Forces personnel play a vital role protecting our country, whether serving overseas or stationed away from home in other parts of the UK. That’s why we’re committed to ensuring they don’t have to pay for broadband or TV services they can’t access, when they find themselves in this situation. Whether it’s through today’s announcement, our hiring of ex-armed forces personnel, or through our work with Reservists, BT, along with our fellow signatories are proud to support our country’s military personnel.”

 

Posted on: 20th March, 2017

What impact does Service life have on children’s education?

Have you ever wondered whether your Service, or that of a serving parent, has affected your children’s educational achievement? At the Naval Families Federation, we’ve been asking these questions of the Department for Education. They have responded by providing information on education statistics for England specifically on UK Armed Forces Personnel’s children, which you can find on the ‘Official Statistics’ part of the Gov.uk website. The bulletin compares Service children to non-Service children (in comparable socioeconomic circumstances). A summary of the key findings is below:

  • In each year between 2012/13 and 2014/15 there’s been little difference between the attainment of service children and non-service children at Key Stage 2 (2014/15: 82.3% and 82.9% respectively) and Key Stage 4 (2014/15: 64.9% and 63.0% respectively).
  • In 2014/15 Service children were more likely to attend more than one school, compared to non-Service children, at both primary (65.8% and 37.4% respectively) and secondary (29.8% and 18.5% respectively). This is most likely due to the requirement for Service personnel to be mobile, as an assignment to a new role could require a locational move, resulting in their children having to move schools.
  • For Service children attending one school, the attainment at Key Stage 2 and 4 was the same or higher than for non-Service children.
  • For Service children who attended more than one school, at both primary and secondary (Key Stage 2 and 4), the percentage achieving the acceptable level fell. However, they performed better than non-Service children who attended more than one school.
  • The same percentage of Service children and non-Service children attended outstanding and good OFSTED rated schools (80.1% and 80.2% respectively) in 2014/15. However fewer Service children attended outstanding schools (17.6% and 21.5% respectively).

The good news is that Service children appear to be achieving at least as well as their peers, if not better in some cases. Clearly we don’t know how well they might have achieved if they were not from a Service background, but these statistics do seem encouraging. Where children appear to be at the most disadvantage is around frequent and repeated mobility, which seems to have a negative impact on attainment. Transitions between schools need to be carefully managed to mitigate this situation.

The DfE have told us that they now hope to be able to produce regular annual statistics about the education of Service children.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this subject, including feedback from families outside of England whose experiences are not captured by the DfE’s statistics.

Posted on: 9th March, 2017

There is no need for children of Service families to suffer in silence if they’re facing difficulties of any kind. The leading relationship charity Relate offers support for all the family, not just couples and not just adults.

Counsellors receive specialised training to help children and young people deal with whatever issues concern them, be it their parents’ separation, bullying, trouble settling in at a new school, or the unique challenges children of Service families may face, such as the long absence of a parent who’s serving on a ship or submarine and cannot be contacted.

Naval Service families can access sessions with Relate for free, paid for by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC). With the majority of Naval Service families now in private, rather than Service Family Accommodation, and many living away from a Royal Navy or Royal Marines base, it can be lonely and isolating. It isn’t always possible to know where the serving family member is and they could be away for six to nine months with contact severely restricted. A Relate centre may be a lot nearer than another Service family or base.

Relate’s counsellors are aware of the special issues faced by children of Service personnel and can help them by talking through their issues and working with them on coping strategies.

Counselling lets the children talk freely about how they feel away from the school and home environment. It’s something that’s just for them, not their parents, siblings or anyone else. This focus can be very reassuring and comforting for a child in distress.

Many of Relate’s youngest clients say they feel happier after they see a Relate counsellor and are better able to deal with their problems.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel or their partners can self-refer to Relate by calling the RNRMC dedicated number 01302 380 279 which will be answered by a Relate professional and is confidential.

If you would like more information please click here.

Posted on: 22nd February, 2017

O2 are offering a discount for Service personnel and up to 5 members of their family on their mobile phone contracts.

You can apply for two discounts at any one time, one on the Airtime Plan of a qualifying O2 Refresh phone contract, and one on an Airtime Plan of a qualifying O2 Refresh tablet or mobile broadband contract:

• 25% off Airtime Plans with 3GB data and above,

• 15% off Airtime Plans below 3GB.

To register you will need to a give a five character O2 Open company code, which for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines is NAV01.

For more details, please click here.

 

Vodafone are offering up to 30% off on plans for Service personnel and a maximum of 6 discounts that they can choose to share with their family and friends.  There is also an offer to save up to 20% off monthly price plans.

How to get the offer:

1. Buy an eligible Pay monthly plan or upgrade your existing one in a Vodafone store,

2. Apply for your discount by presenting your MOD ID or your DDS membership card.

Your application for discount must be made within 30 days of purchase to be eligible.

Whether you’re a new customer or an existing customer eligible to upgrade, you can make the most of their offers:

  • 15% off Pay monthly bundles when you buy a device
  • 15% off any Pay monthly phone, iPad or tablet bundle – including Vodafone Outlet offers,*
  • 30% off SIM only bundles
  • 30% off any Pay monthly SIM only bundles* The Vodafone Advantage discount can’t be used with any other promotional discount.

Please note that there is a £10 membership fee which applies to each connection.

You can also save 10% on accessories in store when you sign up to this scheme.

To find out more, please click here.

 

Posted on: 21st February, 2017

Service children are subject to mobility as a result of their parents’ service and there is good evidence to show that this mobility can have an impact on their education.

 

With this in mind, the Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP) have put together a downloadable resource aimed at Service families, welfare staff as well as professionals within schools and local authorities. The aim is to share good practice and open people’s eyes to the opportunities and challenges that exist around Service children.

 

Please click here to read the resource online and/or download.

 

Posted on: 9th February, 2017
Updated on: 26th November, 2018

Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to any woman with a confirmed interview. They give women the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools they require to succeed at interview and start a new chapter of their life.

At the core of their service is a dressing and interview appointment at one of their Smart Works centres.  During her visit, each woman receives a high-quality interview outfit (theirs to keep) tailored to their taste and style by Smart Works’ stylists. This is followed by dedicated one-to-one interview training with an experienced recruitment, HR or coaching professional.

The Smart Works service is currently run in six locations across the UK: North London, West London, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester, Reading and Birmingham, with more on the way.

Case studies

Tina Singh

Tina came to visit Smart Works for the first time in September 2015 and was successful in securing a role as a catering assistant in early October.

I had no smart clothes to wear for interviews and my confidence was at an all time low when I was referred to Smart Works in September.

The dressers at Smart Works made me look super sharp for my interview.  They were so kind and friendly; they knew how to dress me and gave me lots of styling advice.  They really were experts.

The interview techniques and tips I learnt during the interview coaching was also so very useful, and really helped me prepare for my interview properly.

Everyone at Smart Works made me feel worthy.  They really built up my confidence and I would recommend the service to anyone.”

Letitia Adu-Sarkodie

Letitia visited Smart Works in April 2015 having applied for over 30 jobs unsuccessfully in the previous 6 months.  Shortly after coming to Smart Works Letitia secured a job at Google in their HR department.

 “Being unemployed for a long time and being unsuccessful in so many applications had really impacted negatively on my sense of self worth and confidence.  I didn’t really believe in myself at interview which I am sure showed, and I know I wasn’t instilling confidence in the people interviewing me.

 Coming to Smart Works gave me a real confidence boost, it was a fantastic experience.

 The Interview session was priceless as it gave me so many good tips on how to answer tricky interview questions.  I really appreciated being able to go through my CV and I learnt how to speak about my skills and experience positively.

 I definitely left with a smile, and to top it all off I survived a very hard three hour interview and got the job!”

Appointments at Smart Works are by referral only. Each local Smart Works works with a large range of referral partners who support women back into work. If you are unsure you can find contact numbers here and they will be able to advice you.

 

For further information, please click here.

 

Posted on: 30th January, 2017

Grandparents caring for grandchildren under 12 could qualify for National Insurance credits that can top up their income in retirement.

Many working-age grandmothers and fathers could qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits for looking after children aged under 12 – which can be used to top up their income in retirement.

Half of Britain’s 7 million working-age grandparents have a grandchild under the age of 16.

Working parents can give up the Child Benefit credits they receive and donate them to their child’s grandparents or other adult family members for the previous tax year. Grandparents and parents must apply for the credits to be transferred.

 

Top grandparent facts

Top grandparent facts include:

  • 1 in 4 working families and 1 in 3 working mothers use grandparents for childcare
  • 63% of all grandparents with grandchildren under 16 help out with childcare
  • 1 in 5 grandmothers provide at least 10 hours a week of childcare
  • the proportion of grandparents who are of working age is set to grow as the retirement age gradually rises

 

More information

Applications for NI credits for caring for children under 12 need to be made to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and must be signed by both the adult carer and the Child Benefit recipient. Applications need to be made in the October following the end of the tax year in which the caring took place.

The credit is a Class 3 National Insurance credit and protects entitlement to basic State Pension and bereavement benefits for spouses and civil partners.

There is no minimum requirement for the number of hours of care in a week as long as the credit is transferred for a full week. For details of who can apply and how, visit here or phone the National Insurance Helpline on 0845 302 1479.

The new flat-rate State Pension, set above today’s means-tested support, is designed to provide certainty to people about what they will get in retirement. It will benefit women, and also the self-employed, who are currently excluded from qualifying for state second pension.

Figures in this release come from the Grandparents Plus briefing paper on grandparental childcare and their publication Doing it all?

 

Posted on: 20th January, 2017

Armed Forces personnel redeployed within the UK will now be able to rent out their homes without facing higher costs or having to change their mortgage.

 

This commitment from the majority of the UK’s high street banks and building societies is an extension to the offer made back in January 2016, which allowed service personnel posted overseas to rent out their homes at no extra cost.

 

Previously, members of the Armed Forces who rented out their homes during deployment could have been required to change their residential mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage, often incurring new charges and an increased rate of interest. Under the new agreement they will no longer have to do this, saving both time and money.

 

The initiative is supported by 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies, including Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide, and the change will benefit almost 265,000 people in the UK and abroad.

 

British Bankers’ Association CEO Anthony Browne said:

“Members of our Armed Forces work all over the world to look after us, so it’s only right that we look after them. The extra support provided by the main mortgage providers will make sure service personnel and their families are not disadvantaged when they are required to work away from home and want to rent out their house, and make their mortgages fairer”.

 

Posted on: 10th January, 2017

If you need two tonnes of sand moving from underneath a beach hut, who else would you call on but ‘Royal’.

Adam’s Hoofing Hut is a wonderful memorial to an extraordinary young man, Adam Brown, who made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving his country in Afghanistan. On the beautiful Dorset coast, in his favourite holiday location of Mudeford, the Hut is a perfect retreat for Royal Marines families and friends to relax, unwind and reflect.

Thanks to the continued hard work of Adam’s family the ‘Hut’ needed more space to house the Sea Kayaks and other equipment that is now available to those visiting; what the family did need however, was a bit of muscle to get the site ready.

Step forward some Royal Marines Cadets from Yeovil who were itching to help out. In true Corps style they literally ‘dug out blind’ to get the sand moved and prepared the area ready for the new equipment to be safely stored. The cadets talked about what being able to help meant to them; ‘It was an honour to be involved in the project and thank you to our MSSC representative, Charlie Wilson for linking us up with the family so we could carry out this task’.

You can find out more about the fundraising and how to book here.

 

Posted on: 7th December, 2016

The Marine Society are now offering a discount on education courses, through their partnership with Greenwich Hospital.

 

They are offering GCSE, IGCSE, AS and A Level courses in a number of subjects at a 50% discount for all Royal Navy and Royal Marines spouses.

 

Subjects include: Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Economics, English, Geography, History, Maths, Physics, Law, Psychology, Religious Studies and Sociology.

 

For more information please email education@ms-sc.org.

 

Posted on: 7th December, 2016