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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

 

 

 

*EDIT: The report, which has been seen by the Prime Minister, is now available. *

 

To collect evidence for ‘Stick or Twist’, an independent report on retention, Mark Francois MP and his research team visited multiple Naval Service agencies in Portsmouth on Thursday 23rd May. They joined the Naval Families Federation (NFF) and over a dozen dual-serving couples, Service spouses and partners to listen to their ‘lived experience’.

 

With the Armed Forces keen to retain the best talent, this research will provide insights to understand how to create an environment that ensures better retention of Service people, an objective that has been set out by 10 Downing Street.

 

One of the pressing issues highlighted related to childcare and education; there were questions about the use of Service Pupil Premium and concerns were raised about the cost of childcare and its relation to spousal employment.

 

Another theme focused on the implementation of Flexible Service. Some of the families told the team that whilst they appreciate that policy is now in place, it is unrealistic for certain branches within the Naval Service to apply, as operational needs take priority.

 

Finally, pressure on family life was discussed with some spouses describing that the ‘weekending’ lifestyle coupled with the uncertainty of Service commitments has impacted on family functioning and their mental health.

 

Anna Wright, CEO of the Naval Families Federation, said:

‘‘Following the very constructive visit of Andrew Selous MP last month, we wanted to give our families the opportunity to talk directly to Mr Francois and his team about their experiences. We are delighted that this meeting has opened up the conversation between Naval Service families and the government.

 

‘Of the three Services, the Naval Service has the most separation in terms of military deployments as well as non-operational separation. Recent research confirms what families have told us – that the Naval ‘weekending’ lifestyle could affect family-functioning and Service partners’ mental health and career progression. We look forward to seeing these and other issues related to retention addressed in the forthcoming ‘Stick or Twist’ report.”

 

‘Stick or Twist’ is now calling for evidence from serving people and their families and from those who have recently left the Armed Forces, as well as from providers of services to Armed Forces families in the statutory, voluntary and charity sectors. Submissions should be made by 00:00 on 31st May 19. Please visit this page for further information.

 

Posted on: 23rd May, 2019
Updated on: 22nd July, 2020

 

** EDIT: The report, which has been seen by the Prime Minister, is now available.  **

 

The Prime Minister has recommissioned The Rt. Hon. Mark Francois MP and his research team, to produce an independent report on improving Retention within the Armed Forces.

 

Following on from his successful 2017 report on Armed Forces Recruitment, Filling the Ranks, the Prime Minister has recommissioned Mark Francois MP and his research team, to produce an independent report on improving Retention within HM Armed Forces.

 

The report team would like to hear from serving personnel and their families and from those who have recently left the Armed Services, as well as from providers of services to Armed Forces families in the statutory, voluntary and charity sectors.

 

The team’s objective as set out by No. 10, is: “To understand how to create an environment that ensures the best retention of Service personnel for as long as Defence need them.” The team are required to provide initial findings to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence by the end of July 2019 – with the full report to be submitted by the end of the calendar year.

 

The report team are keen to receive evidence on those factors which materially affect retention in the Armed Services. These include, (but are not strictly limited to):
  • The pressure of service life on personnel and their families
  • Frequency of deployment/nights out of bed
  • Remuneration and the “pull factor” of alternative employment opportunities outside of the Armed Forces
  • Career progression – for both service personnel and their spouses/partners
  • Accommodation and home ownership
  • Quality of medical services available to Armed Forces personnel and their families
  • Educational issues, including the provision of special needs education to children

 

The report team is keen to hear both what is working well and what is not working well and should be improved. Unlike, Filling the Ranks, the conclusions of the report will not necessarily be revenue neutral, but any recommendations must be financially realistic. Submissions/comments should be sent to mark.francois.mp@parliament.uk by the deadline of 00:00 on the 31st May 2019. Please include ‘Stick or Twist Report’ in the subject line of the email.

 

The review will seek the first-hand experiences of currently serving, ex-Service personnel and their families, with a series of planned visits to units. All respondents and their respective data will remain anonymous and no one will be personally identified in any report.

 

Commenting on the commissioning of the report Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said,

“I am pleased that the Prime Minister has asked the Rt Hon Mark Francois MP to produce an independent report to Government to see what more can be done to understand the factors underlying Armed Forces Retention and produce recommendations on how Defence and other areas of government can set the conditions to optimise retention. This study has the full support of the Secretary of State for Defence, the Services and myself.”

 

Posted on: 8th May, 2019
Updated on: 22nd July, 2020