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Dear Families,

 

The festive season is often a time of reflection for the things we are most grateful for. For most, it’s a time to be thankful for your family and friends and an opportunity to spend time and make memories together. For the Service families separated at this time of year it is especially tough and the personal sacrifices you make can feel all the more acute. Now more than ever you should be proud of the crucial role that you play in ensuring that our Armed Forces continue to be among the best in the world at what they do.

 

This year I am especially thankful for the incredible work that was done during the short-notice deployment of Service personnel to Afghanistan over the summer: a difficult and at times harrowing deployment which saved so many lives.  This year our brave Service personnel have also continued to deliver critical support to communities up and down the UK as we continue to recover from the pandemic, from testing and vaccinations, to logistics and planning, there has been an incredible effort from all three Services.

 

I am keenly aware of what this has meant for you, and I know that without your support this vital contribution would not have been possible. At the Ministry of Defence, my Ministers and I are determined to ensure we keep modernising the Services so that a career in the Armed Forces doesn’t mean accepting sacrifices for your family.

 

This is why we are launching a new Armed Forces Family Strategy which will set ambitious changes for the next ten years. The strategy will drive improved policies, bringing practical benefits which will help strike a better balance between home life and the demands of Service life. It focusses on the elements you have told us matter most to you including access to healthcare, improved housing, better educational outcomes for your children, and the ability for serving and non-serving partners to have fulfilling and successful careers.

 

Last week we also passed the Armed Forces Act 2021 in Parliament which in it, created a new duty that means public bodies must consider the unique nature of Service life when running healthcare, housing and education services. This means you and your family should never be disadvantaged when accessing these because of your role in the Armed Forces.

 

There is still more change to deliver and we will continue to listen to you. Your Ministry of Defence Team and I speak regularly with the Families Federations to ensure we give due attention to the issues you raise. It is encouraging to see an increase in family engagement through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus the use of other platforms such as the Royal Navy Forum and Army HIVE Blog and I urge you to continue to use the Families Federations and social media to get your voice heard.

 

Naval Families Federation 

Army Families Federation

RAF Families Federation

 

Once again, I would like to thank you personally for all that you continue to do in support of your loved ones. Whether Regular or Reserve, your support helps them to deliver in the professional manner for which they are renowned worldwide.

 

I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas.

 

Yours sincerely,

THE RT HON BEN WALLACE MP

The 2021 Covenant Annual Report is now available. The Naval Families Federation, together with our colleagues in the Army and RAF Families Federations, were pleased to offer our Formal Observations on the 2021 Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report, which has been published today. Our Observations can be found on pages 13-16.

 

Further support delivered this year includes:

 

 

  • A new School Admissions Code for England came into force in September 2021. It includes several provisions to ensure that Service families are not disadvantaged when applying for school places, such as requiring admission authorities to allocate a school place to a Service child before the family moves to the area.

 

  • The Welsh Government has provided a further investment of £270,000 per year to support Service children in Wales. In addition, four Regional Schools Liaison Officers for Service children are now in post across Wales, funded by a grant from the Covenant Fund Trust

 

  • The MOD has delivered key recommendations from recent reports into Single Living Accommodation. The Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are developing their infrastructure delivery plans to improve the condition and quality of Single Living Accommodation across the estate through an ambitious 10‑year programme. £66.1 million was invested in the financial year 2020/21, and the MOD plans to invest a further £1.5 billion over the next decade.

 

  • Building on the independent Living In Our Shoes’ report on the needs of Armed Forces families, the MOD has devised a new UK Armed Forces Families Strategy for 2022-2032. The strategy will provide a framework that reflects modern and diverse family needs and encourages recruitment to and retention in service. The strategy will be underpinned by an action plan organised around eight workstreams: family life, Service life, family home, children’s education, childcare, non‑UK families, supporting partners and health and wellbeing.

 

  • The Military Co‑Working Hubs project – a community of Service spouses and partners working together to create a network of co‑working spaces on military bases has been awarded funding from the Covenant Fund Trust to support its expansion.

 

 

  • The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced 11 new Armed Forces Champion Leads to oversee the 50 Armed Forces Champions working across the Jobcentre Plus network.

 

 

To access the full Report, the Executive Summary and a useful infographic, visit the MoD website here.

 

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: 15th December, 2021

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