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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

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

 

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

FAM Pilot

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) committed the Ministry of Defence to make a new accommodation offer, to help more personnel live in private accommodation and meet their aspirations for home ownership.

 

The way people live and work is changing and the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) reflects this, giving more choice to more Service personnel and their families over where, how and with whom you live.

 

Now that the pilot is live across all Services, FAM leads will test the policy and work closely with Service personnel to see how they respond. The pilot will run for around three years, and everyone’s feedback over that time will be hugely important. A decision will then be made about whether to expand FAM and roll it out to the rest of the UK over the following decade.

 

On 1st April 2019, more information on the model was released. The MOD has produced the following videos to give you an overview of FAM:

 

 

 

FAM is now live at HMNB Clyde, Aldershot Garrison and RAF Wittering.

Under FAM, entitlement to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) will no longer be allocated according to the rank of individuals, but will instead focus on the size of the family, promoting fairness and ensuring homes are fit for purpose. For those living on, or assigned to, HMNB Clyde it is important to know that Single Living Accommodation (SLA) and SFA will still be available, with no SFA properties sold off because of the pilot.

 

If you are happy in your current SLA or SFA at one of the pilot locations don’t worry, you don’t need to take any action. However, if you’d now like to consider renting or buying a home in the local area with support from the MOD, FAM makes this possible:

Eligibility
  • Regular or Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment)
  • Based at one of the pilot locations with 12 months or more left on your draft, or have an assignment there of 12 months or more during the pilot
  • Have 4 or more years of Service
Applications

If you decide you want to change your current accommodation and you want to rent then you will need to complete an Accommodation Preference Form (APF) in JPA. If you want to buy a house then you do not fill out the APF, instead you’ll need to take your legal paperwork to your Unit Personnel Office (UPO). If you choose to stay in your current SLA or SFA then you don’t need to do anything.

 

If you are due to be assigned to HMNB Clyde, you can choose your accommodation in line with the FAM policies. You can submit your APF in advance of your start date.

Note: Long Term Relationships (LTR)

It was also announced 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 SFA at all UK bases where properties are available, provided that you met the criteria. Please note that this is not part of FAM, but rather a new policy. This is not an entitlement to SFA. Find out more about your eligibility here.

Enquiries/ Further details
HMNB Clyde FAM Cell
Housing Options Scotland

Housing Options Scotland’s (HOS) “Military Matters” programme supports members of the Armed Forces community with any housing needs or issues. The charity offers free, independent information, advice and support to those who get in touch, and they can help with all kinds of housing tenure – from renting privately to social housing and home ownership.

 

Karen Campbell is the Military Matters broker at HOS and works with clients from the Armed Forces community. Support is offered on a 1-1 basis, where every client receives information and advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

 

Discover My Benefits

Find out what you could receive in payments and allowances, if you rent or buy a home under FAM via Discover My Benefits.

Information on gov.uk
Attachments

The MOD and the NFF’s Homeport magazine have also produced videos, articles and leaflets that can help you understand this update better:

Step-by-step guide:

 

Here’s what the first people to benefit from new choices in accommodation in HMNB Clyde have to say about FAM:

FAM informational poster.
FAM informational poster.
FAM guide front page.
Guide for existing renters at HMNB Clyde
FAM informational poster.
All you need to know about FAM (Homeport Summer '19, p.37-40)

The Naval Families Federation welcomes your thoughts on this pilot. Please do contact us.

 

Posted on: 1st April, 2019
Updated on: 15th October, 2020

** Update: This survey is now closed. Please see the results here. We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the survey.**

 

The Ministry of Defence is in the process of reviewing the provision of military housing from initial application through to the complaints process, including the future repair and maintenance contract, currently held by Amey. Please complete (and share) this Housing Survey to allow the NFF to use your views and feedback to influence the outcome of decisions made.

 

Naval Families Federation CEO Anna Wright said:

“Royal Navy and Royal Marines families provided evidence in relation to the Carillion Amey Service Family Accommodation (SFA) maintenance contract, which the Naval Families Federation presented to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee in 2016.  Members of the Committee recognised the importance of feedback from Armed Forces families. Please take up this invitation to have your voice heard on this important subject.”

 

This survey will run until midnight 30th November 2018 and takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

 

Please note this survey is for the new SFA maintenance contract and is not part of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) project. Information on FAM can be found here.

 

Posted on: 7th November, 2018
Updated on: 17th January, 2019

The Ministry of Defence has produced a guide to expenses and allowances for Serving personnel and the support families could receive.

 

This booklet, accessible here, holds a wealth of information to help both regular and reserve members of all three Services to better understand some of the most common expenses, allowances and other provisions that are available.

 

Introducing the categories of entitlements, explaining the common terminologies, and the claiming process, it can also signpost you to the correct departments and appropriate chapters in JSP 752 (primary authority). You can also find a FAQ in form of scenarios that are most commonly experienced by our Serving people.

 

Please note that this document is for guidance only, do always refer to JSP 752 and contact your Unit HRs.

 

Posted on: 19th September, 2018

On Wendesday 29th August 2018 it was announced that CarillionAmey is rebranding, and will be known as ‘Amey’ from now on.

 

There are sereval changes that you may wish to take note of:

 

  1. Their new website will be https://www.ameydefenceservices.co.uk/
  2. You can find out more about their services (including a SFA guide, advice and support etc.) here.
  3. There is a change to their email address domain (@ameydefenceservices.co.uk). Please refer to this page here for more information.
  4. Their phone numbers will remain unchanged.

 

You can read their official statement here.

 

Posted on: 30th August, 2018

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) survey results have now been published. These will be used as part of the on-going policy development for the FAM, which will combine the survey with other results (e.g. the single Service Families Federations’ surveys) and Focus Group findings to refine the accommodation offer based on your feedback.

 

A Tri-Service FAM pilot scheme will be carried out in several locations throughout the UK. This was due to start in December 2018 but will now take place in 2019. Ministers are expected to confirm locations and start dates next year. The scheme is planned to run for two years and there will be a consultation period on completion of this. FAM is expected to be gradually introduced once the consultation period is complete.

 

To read the report in full please click here.

 

In addition, thank you to everyone who took part in our Future of Accommodation Model survey.

 

Here are the headlines of our findings from the Naval community.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Last updated on: 25th October, 2018

There are houses or flats available to personnel who need temporary accommodation for short periods of time, either for themselves or their family. To find Contact Housing in your area, please visit the NS FPS website.

 

Short Term Family Accommodation (STFA)

Short Term Family Accommodation is a group of Service Family Accommodation properties which have been set aside for use as temporary self-catering accommodation primarily for welfare reasons.

The Scheme is aimed at enabling Service personnel to utilise these facilities for both themselves and visiting friends or family members with priority always given to welfare/compassionate cases.

Service Personnel, Veterans, MOD civilians and their families can expect fully equipped Service Family Accommodation with everything they need, from duvets and linen, to TV/DVD players and cooking facilities. Properties are available for a minimum stay of two nights to a maximum stay of six months.

For further information, please click here.

 

Cotswold Centre

The Services Cotswold Centre provides secure and affordable temporary housing for serving personnel and their families from all three services.

The Centre is primarily open to those that are:

  • subject of emergency evacuation from overseas;
  • in transit between postings or retiring;
  • with welfare housing issues.

The accommodation is located near Corsham, Wiltshire. It can provide accommodation for up to six months. It comprises of 60 self-contained homes.

The three bedroom chalets and converted flatlets are all self catering. They are fully furnished and include a TV, fridge/freezer, crockery, bedding and towels. On-site facilities include a primary school.

Families may be accommodated if they are:

  • a Service person and/or their spouse/civil partner, whether or not they are accompanied by children or any other authorised immediate family members;
  • estranged families/spouses/civil partners of personnel who are able to cover the costs of their accommodation and living expenses;
  • injured personnel, their carers and/or immediate family members, where authorised by the Officer Commanding of the Centre and welfare providers – for the purposes of recuperation during rehabilitation.

This may include those in receipt of a Family Maintenance Grant. Families in UK SFA will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances – with authority from the single Service Housing Colonels.

Where a requirement falls outside of this eligibility, the parent Unit should seek advice from the Officer Commanding of the Centre.

Personnel should see 2015DIN01-029 on the Defence Intranet for further details, including the full eligibility criteria and the priority order for housing people in the Centre.

 

Navy Mews

The plan to take a tired and unused office space and re-purpose it into bespoke, self-contained units has been through many phases and challenges. However, as the New Year started, the official opening of the Royal Navy’s three new single parent units in Dreadnaught Block, HMS Nelson, turned plans into reality.

The aim behind the project is to give single serving parents the ideal environment to spend time and build relationships with their children when not away on deployment.

For some time a solution has been sought to address the challenges of finding a safe and comfortable place for personnel to use, and the Royal Navy hopes this will prove to be a huge step in helping separated families.

Commander Martin Evans, the Naval Base Executive Officer, explained:

“We identified a need back in 2010. If a Service person is the primary care-giver in a child’s life, the MOD will always provide a permanent home, however, separated single parents often struggle to retain quality contact because of a combination of the constraints imposed by Service life, the costs involved and significantly, the lack of an accessible home from home facility. We wanted to provide somewhere where these parents can have a semblance of normality, where they can eat together, play together and bond in a home environment – rather than a hotel and a weekend of fast food.

The project is a great example of collaborative working. RNRMC took on the mantle of securing the funding needed to deliver the project, successfully bidding for and raising the £250,000 required. This was just the tip of the iceberg in a project of this size and ambition. RNRMC’s Director of Relationships and Funding, Mandy Lindley said, “I am really delighted to see this project materialize. The close cooperative working with the Chain of Command and the Accommodation Officer, Sara Williams, has delivered, despite the many challenges that presented themselves as we progressed this plan. I have been involved with this project since arriving with RNRMC some 18 months ago and have seen the highs and the lows, and witnessed the sheer determination and innovation needed to ensure that this truly valuable resource could be made available for families.”

The three apartments each have a theme: ‘Poppy’ which has been adapted for any visitors who may need easier access or who have additional needs: ‘Shabby Chic’; and ‘Beach’. The finishing touches for each of the themed ‘Mews’ have been supplied via an innovative scheme which has involved the creative work of the wives and partners who attend ‘Friends at No 10’ (a Community House for Armed Forces families living in Portsmouth). Working with the Portsmouth based ‘Company of Makers’, the group from ‘Friends at No 10′ have created bespoke throws and cushions for the flats. Volunteers who attend the Friday sewing class, crafted unique, soft furnishings to help visitors feel welcome and at home.

Additional collaboration has come in the form of many generous donation from a number of sources, particularly from within the Service families’ community. Each room benefits from donated toys, games and books, providing the perfect environment for relationships to flourish.

To book Navy Mews, please call 02392 723 165 or email: NAVYNBCP-NAVYMEWS@mod.uk.

 

Stepping Stones

SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) have two Stepping Stones Homes in North West London and in Tyne & Wear. The Homes offer temporary supported accommodation to women with a Service connection (with or without children), who are in need of a secure environment and emergency accommodation. Applications should be made through the Welfare Authorities or Families Officers to SSAFA. More information can be found on the SSAFA website.

 

Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)

The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) website has information for those who need re-housing. There is information on homelessness, Council housing, and affordable housing schemes etc. You can also get information on JSHAO’s regular housing briefings and their Housing Matters Magazine. Click here to visit their website.

 

Contact Houses/Welcome Houses

Contact Houses or Welcome Houses are the houses or flats on an estate, which are available to personnel who need temporary accommodation for short periods of time, either for themselves or their family. To find Contact Housing in your area, please visit the NS FPS website.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Updated on: 2nd December, 2019

When living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), you will need to insure your home.

 

Standard home liability insurance does not cover Service family accommodation (SFA).

 

The Ministry of Defence recommends (JSP 464, Volume 1, Part 1, Section I, Paragraph 0605) that you take out a specialist type of insurance that covers your liability, up to £20,000, for any damage you or your family may do to your Service family accommodation. This is called ‘Licence to Occupy’ insurance.

 

The Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP) provides details of insurance providers who can ensure that you have the necessary ‘Licence to Occupy’ cover.

 

You may also wish to take out home contents insurance.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018