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It was announced in 2019 that Service personnel who are in a long-term relationship or have residential responsibility for a child will now be able to apply to live together in surplus Service Family Accommodation (SFA) at all UK bases where properties are available. Before that, only married couples, those in civil partnerships and those with legally dependent children could live in SFA.

 

Service personnel wishing to cohabit in surplus SFA in the UK will still be required to comply with Para 0301 of JSP 464, Vol 1, Part 1 as follows:

  • Be aged 18 or over;
  • Have completed Phase 1 training;
  • Be serving on a regular engagement in the UK Armed Forces or be a Full Commitment Reservist as defined in single-Service regulations.

 

Please note that this is NOT part of Future Accommodation Model (FAM), but rather a new policy. This is not an entitlement to SFA – if there is no surplus SFA at your place of work (50 miles within your assignment location), you will not be able to take advantage of this new policy.

For more details, please refer to 2020DIN01-014 (available via Dii).
Posted on: 19th September, 2019
Updated on: 28th January, 2020

 

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has launched a new, open consultation to discover how those within, and working with, the Armed Forces community feel funding could be best used to support them. The consultation comes ahead of the re-launch of the Armed Forces Covenant: Local Grants programme, which has successfully supported hundreds of local projects over the last five years, strengthening the Armed Forces community both in terms of integration and delivery of local services.

 

By seeking valuable feedback as part of this eight-week consultation, the Trust will shape a new programme, based on the needs and priorities identified at a local level, and will use the evidence gathered to inform their overall priority for 2020 of Integration and Engagement.

 

Your views are vital

As well as which groups of people you feel are most in need of funding support, your views of grant size and how those grants are made are also welcomed. The consultation is live from 13 January until 6 March 2020. To take part, visit the Trust’s website where details can be found on their homepage.

 

Posted on: 15th January, 2020

 

 

The 2019 Covenant Annual Report was published today (20th December 2019). The NFF was delighted to have the opportunity again this year to set out our Formal Observations on the report (p.15-17).

 

Further support delivered this year includes:
  • The Forces Families Jobs website has been launched, providing free access to employment and training opportunities to families in the Armed Forces
  • Introduction of flexible service allowing regular personnel to temporarily work part time
  • The launch of the Future Accommodation Model pilot, looking at how the accommodation offer for Service personnel and their families can be improved
  • Extension of the Forces Help to Buy scheme to December 2022, helping armed forces personnel to get on the property ladder

 

As set out in the Queen’s Speech this week, the Armed Forces Covenant will be further incorporated into law over the course of this Parliament. The legislation will seek to strengthen current arrangements to remove disadvantage and improve the consistency of Covenant outcomes for the Armed Forces community.

 

We would encourage you to read through the Report to learn more about the work being undertaken to support you and your family. If you have any comments on the Report, or would like to raise a concern which you believe falls within the remit of the Armed Forces Covenant, please get in touch with us via our website.

 

Posted on: 20th December 2019

Located in New Forest National Park, the Poppy Pod Village is the Tile Barn Outdoor Centre’s legacy to Armed Forces personnel. These Pods are here in perpetuity to recognise and remember the sacrifices made and faced by the Armed Forces Community.

 

With the help of the Armed Forces Covenant, the Royal British Legion (Brockenhurst Branch) and Hampshire County Council, this project has been made possible.

 

In the campsite, you will find wooden camping pods, which are sustainable and environmentally friendly with solar panels. Inside each pod, you will find a fixed double bed/ seating area, two folding camp beds, USB phone charging socket, and LED lighting. The campsite is also fully equipped with toilets and showers, fridge/freezer, car park and more.

 

Adventurous activities run every Saturday morning for weekend bookings or Tuesday/Thursday mornings for week bookings. Visit this page for more information on their Adventure Days.

 

The Poppy Pod Membership for 2020 is now open for purchase. Serving personnel (Regular and Reservists) and Veterans can join this scheme via Hampshire County Council and use the facility for free, along with their family members, at weekends and school holidays.

 

 

Posted on: 18th July, 2016
Last updated: 18th December, 2019

We wish you a very Happy Christmas from all of us here at the Naval Families Federation. Please note that our offices will be closed from Friday 20th December 2019 to Thursday 2nd January 2020. Should you require urgent assistance over this period, you can find emergency contact details here:

Combat Stress Mental Health Helpline

If you’re currently serving in the UK Armed Forces, you can call Combat Stress’ 24-hour mental health helpline. A team of specially-trained professionals are available day and night to provide free confidential advice and support. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their contact details are as follows:

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion supports serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families. They will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Their Contact Centre helpline will be available to call for the rest of the period:

  • 0808 802 8080 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week (calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks) for all enquiries.
  • From overseas: +44 (0)20 3376 8080 (full rate)
The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC)

If circumstances should arise, whilst your relative is deployed overseas that make it necessary for you to apply for his or her return home on compassionate grounds, such as a death in the family or a serious illness, you should contact JCCC at +44 (0)14 5251 9951. This number is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days per week throughout the Christmas period.

Naval Service Family & People Support (NS FPS)

If you have a concern or issue over the Christmas period that needs some support, especially if your Serving person is away from home please call NS FPS. Please click here to see their opening hours and emergency contact details for the Christmas period.

The Samaritans

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day all year around.

Please call:

  • UK – 116 123
  • Welsh Language Line – 0808 164 0123 (Not 24-Hour, please see link above)
  • Republic of Ireland – 116 123
Posted on: 10th December, 2018
Updated on: 17th December, 2019

 

As the holiday celebrations get under way, the NFF wants to feature YOU on our social media!

Our unique lifestyle sometimes demands an amazing sense of humour, and we want to share your less than ‘picture-perfect’ stories. Eligible story entries* will go into the hat to win a £100 Amazon gift card. If you have a printable ‘funny’ about holiday mishaps then please let us know: surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Advent-Capers

 

We will be posting a story every weekday from 9th to 20th December. Follow us to read all about it: Facebook; Instagram; Twitter

 

Here is an example of what we are looking for:

‘Elf on the shelf – a regular occurrence in our household from the 1st December..  Buddy the elf comes to visit and each day is found in a different place up to something naughty. He returns back to the North Pole every night to report on the children’s behaviour (an amazing parenting technique to regulate (or attempt to regulate) behaviour).  What isn’t represented in this photo is the hours of work and effort that go into planning and organising what this naughty elf is going to do every day; the blind panic that hits you in the morning when you wake up and you remember that you forgot to put him out the night before – resulting in you creeping down the stairs, praying desperately that the kids don’t wake up (or god forbid haven’t woken up and are already downstairs and noticed) whilst you go to position said elf; the pressure that comes from Instagraming/Facebook posting the latest position of said elf to trump the children’s friends elves; the sheer relief that sweeps over parents on Christmas Eve when said elf returns to the North Pole for another year on to return in 330 odd days!!!!’

 

*Prize draw T&C:

By submitting your story and picture(s), you consent for the NFF to share them via FacebookTwitterInstagram and/or LinkedIn. We would still love to hear from you if you are not eligible to entering the prize draw.

Prize draw closes at 23:59 on Friday 20th December 2019. It is open to currently serving Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their family members only and you must be 18 or over. One winner will be randomly selected and will be contacted by the NFF via email (info@nff.org.uk) no later than 1pm on Friday 10th January 2020. Winners will have 72 hours to reply to the email to confirm their contact details. If we receive no communication from the winner within the time limit, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner. One entry per person, extra entries will be voided.

By entering this prize draw, you agree to the above T&C and the NFF’s privacy policy. All data will be destroyed once the voucher has been sent out. The NFF reserves the right to cancel or amend the prize draw and these terms and conditions without notice. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

 

Posted on: 2nd December, 2019

 

Armed Forces personnel and their families are to receive enhanced support from the MOD as they re-join civilian life, the Defence Secretary has announced today.

 

The expanded support includes the launch a new organisation, the Defence Transition Services (DTS), which will provide comprehensive support to service leavers.

 

Dedicated MOD staff across the country will help those few service leavers who may struggle as they transition into civilian life. More responsibility will also be placed on commanders to identify those who are likely to face the greatest challenges in making a successful transition.

 

Previously, transition support was mainly focussed on ensuring that personnel find jobs when leaving service, through the MOD’s longstanding and successful Career Transition Partnership (CTP). Now, personnel and their families will also receive expanded support and guidance, including in areas such as personal finance, accessing healthcare, housing costs and paying council tax.

 

The new measures announced today also include:

 

  • Regionally based teams with dedicated staff will provide support to individuals and their families assessed as facing the greatest challenges during the transition stage
  • Placing responsibility on a service person’s unit to assess each service leaver’s preparedness for transitioning into civilian life. Those assessed as someone who may struggle in civilian life will then be referred to Defence Transition Services
  • New guidance for all service leavers on issues to consider when leaving the armed forces, including housing, finances and access to healthcare, as well as the crucial issue of their family’s transition away from being an integral part of Service life
  • A new Defence Holistic Transition Policy

 

Bespoke support from the DTS is provided for a member of the armed forces while they approach their date of discharge and will not stop start when they leave the military. The support can continue for as long as it is needed.

 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“We have a duty of care to our service personnel and veterans and today’s stepped up support will help ensure that no veteran is left behind.

“While the vast majority of those who leave the armed forces go on the lead happy, healthy and successful lives, we need to do everything we can for those who do struggle.

“Providing more comprehensive support at the crucial transition stage will help in giving service leavers an extra boost when they re-join civilian life.”

 

A successful transition is key for the majority of service leavers to ensure they build successful lives as civilians. The MOD recognises its crucial role in ensuring its service leavers are as well prepared and supported as possible to re-enter civilian society.

 

Today’s announcement also delivers against the government-wide Strategy for Our Veterans, ensuring the approximate 15,000 service leavers each year contribute fully to society and setting the standard for future recruitment to the armed forces.

 

The new initiatives, which will be run by the MOD, will ensure that service leavers are fully considering all relevant aspects of their departure from the Armed Forces, the effect of that departure on their families, and the appropriate steps to be taken to ensure that the transition, both in the short and long term, is as successful as possible.

 

Providing an extra layer of care for those preparing to leave the military, DTS will deliver specialist support for personnel who are most likely to face challenges as they adjust to civilian life. Service leavers will be offered unique solutions to the challenges they face, including help with employment.

 

The DTS will also be responsible for providing signposting and connecting with external support from other government departments and public bodies, as well as trusted charities.

 

The increased support comes after the Government established the Office for Veterans Affairs, bringing together all relevant Government departments to ensure that veterans are receiving the support they need and deserve.

 

We are pleased that the tri-Families Federation research Lifting the Lid on Transition has helped to inform this new policy.

 

The Naval Families Federation welcomes your feedback. Please do contact us via our website with any comments you make have. Click here to access the NFF’s Transition Guide for Royal Navy and Royal Marines families.

 

Posted on: 1st November, 2019

 

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