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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

In January 2019, Andrew Selous MP was asked by the then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to produce an independent report to capture the needs of Service families.

 

The review team gathered evidence to inform the study in a number of ways, including email consultations, visits to military bases, schools with large numbers of Service children, and meetings with key military personnel and stakeholders. The NFF was delighted to host the team at our offices to meet with Service personnel and spouses/partners at a forum during the consultation period.

 

The report, ‘Living in our Shoes’, which features our parental absence guide, is now available.

 

Key themes emerged during the review about the challenges experienced by Armed Forces families today which are regarded as detrimental to modern family life and relationships. These refer to: Service Family Accommodation (SFA); mobility; deployment; the impact of Service life on military children and young people; the employment and careers of spouses/partners; the health and well-being of Serving personnel and family members; and the impact of Service life on personal relationships.

 

Members of the Armed Forces have a great sense of pride in the work they do and the sacrifices they and their families make.

 

The report outlined over 100 recommendations in different areas to support Service personnel and their families. The recommendations are targeted primarily at actions for the MOD and the three single Services, but some have implications for other government departments and local authorities in England, the Devolved Governments of the UK, and a range of organisations in the statutory, private and charitable sectors.

 

You can download a copy of the summary here. The full report can be found here

 

Posted on: 30th June, 2020

 

Over the past two years the Naval Families Federation (NFF) have facilitated the training of one of their team members to become a Level 1 Immigration Advisor through the Officer of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). This has been achieved with funding assistance from a Royal British Legion ‘Capacity Building’ grant, the ongoing support of the Army Families Federation’s Foreign and Commonwealth Specialist Katherine Houlston and GBS UK Immigration’s HM Forces Immigration Law expert Joanne Sullivan.

 

We are thrilled to announce that Pete Hawley has successfully passed the OISC Level 1 Assessment and the NFF are now regulated by the OISC to give qualified and timely immigration advice to Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their family members, the Chain of Command and NS FPS caseworkers.

 

The Naval Families Federation’s OISC Regulation number is N202000087

 

Working in collaboration with Joanne Sullivan from GBS UK Immigration and CPO Janine Potts from the Royal Navy Commonwealth Network, Pete is currently working on developing a comprehensive Immigration Information section for the Naval Families Federation website. The aim is for this to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all immigration enquiries and will greatly help our Service personnel and their families to navigate the complex area of the UK’s immigration laws, which can result in significant unnecessary expense if you get it wrong.

 

Please click here to contact us.

 

Posted on: 27th May, 2020

UPDATE

As 2020 draws to a welcome close and we keep our fingers crossed for 2021, we’ve revamped the project in order to offer you a warm, welcoming Winter Glow. Please click here for more information.

On the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the Naval Families Federation (NFF) is proud to announce the ‘Brighten Your Day’ project, funded by the Annington Trust.

 

We are grateful for our Armed Forces’ sacrifice to protect our nation and its interests. As we celebrate the end of conflict in Europe 75 years ago today, we are also proud to be in the corner of currently serving members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and their families.

 

Our community is resourceful and resilient. Families and partners juggle work, childcare, finances, home responsibilities and everything else during periods when serving people are working away or deployed.

 

During the coronavirus pandemic, we recognise that there is additional pressure on currently serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families. The NFF has received funding from the Annington Trust to provide them with resources to support their resilience, to enhance coping strategies and to brighten a family’s day during COVID-19.

 

UPDATE

This project has been replaced by ‘Winter Glow’. Please click here for more information.

Gallery

Thank you for your positive feedback and on-going demand – here are some of the pictures featuring you! Please contact us with your photos as we would love to see them!

Posted on: 8th May, 2020
Updated on: 7th December, 2020

Whether it is ‘weekending’ or deployment, we understand that Royal Navy and Royal Marines families spend a considerable amount of time away from each other.

Pile of books including 'My Daddy's going away'

 

For the past 2 years, the Naval Families Federation (NFF) has been providing serving personnel and their families with book resources to help them during periods of separation and deployment.

 

Thanks to your positive feedback and ongoing demand, the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) has kindly agreed to fund a continuation of the project, which has been further enhanced with additional resources relevant to the current Covid-19 lockdown.

 

The project includes resources to assist with times of parental absence, relationships, parenting, anxiety, bereavement and more.

 

Guidelines for provision of books/ resources

  • Full list of books from the NFF family resource projectA maximum of one book for each child/ family member of currently serving Royal Navy/ Royal Marines personnel.
  • You will be asked to provide your (or your serving person’s) Service number for eligibility purposes.
  • While every effort will be made to process orders quickly, this project is not supported by any additional staffing resource, so please be patient with us.
  • Provision of particular titles is subject to availability.
  • Please note that during the current COVID – 19 situation there may be a slight delay.
Posted on: 4th May, 2020

 

We want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all the people who are working as part of the national response to Covid-19.

 

Many key workers in the NHS, the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) and other vital services are working away from home at the moment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are living away from your family, here are some tried and tested tips from the experience of Royal Navy and Royal Marines families which may help you to navigate this time of separation.

 

You can download our resource free here.

 

 

Posted on: 30th April, 2020

 

 

As new measures and guidelines develop around COVID-19, we have put together a list of fun activities and useful resources specifically designed for the serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines families community.

 

Please also visit this page for updates from the NFF, Chain of Command and other stakeholders.

 


Activities

 

  • ‘Brighten Your Day’ project

 

    • During the coronavirus pandemic, we recognise that there is additional pressure on our Royal Navy and Royal Marines families. The NFF has received funding from the Annington Trust to provide our families with resources to brighten their day.

 

  • NFF & Headspace

NFF, Headspace and RN FPS are delighted to offer RN/RM families free access to the Headspace app

 

    • The NFF, supported by Royal Navy Family and People Support, is delighted to launch our Headspace for Families project on National Stress Awareness Day (4th November 2020). The project is open to non-serving family members (RN/RM/RFA – regular and reserves). Headspace is a platform for mindful living which you can take with you wherever you go – watch this video to find out more. You can find out more, and sign up for 12 months free access to Headspace here.

 

  • Time, On My Watch

Time, on my watch promotional poster with quote and logos.

 

    • The new NFF project is funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. It’s an opportunity for you to show that your time is valuable and that you matter too. You can say what you like, in whatever medium you like. Send a photograph of the completed piece to us and Artist Tim Mann will use your images to create a final piece of artwork, which will be anonymous.

 

  • Downloadable content

 

    • Visit Little Troopers’ website to download their free activity sheets for your young person.

 

  • Reading books

 

    • For the past 2 years, the NFF has been providing serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families with book resources to help them during periods of separation and deployment. Thanks to your positive feedback and ongoing demand, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity has kindly agreed to fund a continuation of the project, which has been further enhanced with additional resources relevant to the current Covid-19 lockdown. The project includes resources to assist with times of parental absence, relationships, parenting, anxiety, bereavement and more. Click here for more information.

 

    • The name Clare Shaw may perhaps ring a bell? The ”My Daddy’s/ Mommy’s Gone Away to Work” author from our book list has written an online book about COVID – 19 for children and it is available to download for free here.

 

    • A free book explaining the virus to children has been created by the Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler. Click here to download a free copy or to watch it with your children by video.

 

    • Click here to access Staying Home, a book by Sally Nicholls and Viviane Schwarz. This storybook help explain the current situation to children.

 

    • Reading Force is a shared reading initiative for Service families. The charity provides free books and scrapbooks to Service children of all ages, in order to support and encourage Armed Forces families with shared reading both at home or when separated.

 

  • Staying active

 

    • Visit our guide here to access top tips to staying active and healthy.

 


Useful resources

 

  • Arriving Home Safely

 

    • Thank you to our NHS and key-workers. We have produced the above infographic to help you arrive home safely.

 

  • Bereavement support

 

    • Please click here for a leaflet produced by the government that shares important information to help bereaved families, friends or next of kin make important decisions during this national emergency and explains the next steps, answers some of your questions, and guides you to the extra help and support that is available.

 

    • During the global coronavirus pandemic we are facing a tragic loss of life, often under very difficult circumstances. Cruse have put together these resources to share how bereavement and grief may be affected by this pandemic.

 

    • Winston’s Wish provide support for bereaved children, young people and their families with a military connection.

 

    • Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.
    • Relate have extended their counselling offer to Naval Service families to include bereavement and loss.

 

  • Child Safety

 

    • With children at home, you may worry about their safety. The Child Accident Prevention Trust have produced a guide to preventing accidents at home.

 

    • The RoSPA have produced this list of ideas to keep under-5s safe.

 

  • Domestic abuse

 

    • Measures announced over recent weeks to tackle COVID-19 are essential to beat the virus and to protect our NHS. Staying at home is particularly challenging for people who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses you are under. Find out more about how you can access help here. If you need urgent support, dial 999.

 

    • During the coronavirus crisis, Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE campaign has been working to ensure victims of domestic abuse across the UK can access vital support in a safe space. All Boots UK stores will facilitate their consultation rooms as Safe Spaces, enabling people facing domestic abuse to access specialist domestic abuse support services.

 

    • Please click here to access a safety planning guide for domestic abuse survivors.

 

    •  Click here to access a safety planning guide for children in isolation.

 

  • Homeschooling/ adult-learners

 

    • The Learning and Development Organisation have produced this PDF containing hyperlinks to resources for parents now home schooling, and adult learners.
    • BFBS TV will broadcast eight hours of BBC Bitesize educational programmes to help Armed Forces families overseas with home schooling by giving them access to the new ‘lockdown service’ available on the BBC in the UK. Click here for more information on the schedule.

 

  • Mental health support 

 

    • How is it going? Challenging times like so can affect our mental health. Help is available.
    • Combat Stress have released a series of videos and resources with helpful advice, information and strategies to help get you through.

 

  • Relationship support

 

    • Relationships may face extra pressure during this difficult time. Relate offers Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families free access to their counselling service.
    • ‘Building Stronger Families’ portal is a self-directed online learning programme supporting naval couple and family relationships, which may also be able to assist.

 

  • Service charities

 

    • Here is a list of other Service charities you may wish to take note of.

 

  • Strengthening Families

 

    • While this is not a covid-19 relief project, ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’,  is a new offer of support for all Royal Navy and Royal Marines families. Find out more about how the programme partners can support you and your family here.

 

  • Working Away from Home

 

    • Are you living away from your family? Here are some tried and tested tips from the experience of Royal Navy and Royal Marines families which may help you to navigate this time of separation.

 


Posted on: 26th March, 2020
Updated on: 5th November, 2020