Latest News & Information
On this page:
15 Jan - Reassurance for Army families amidst news of Carillion liquidation
10 Jan - Jobs for military spouses: help AFF discover what more needs to be done
15 Dec - A Christmas message to SP from the Secretary of State for Defence
CAAS banding: an update for families
Families share their Covenant experiences with AFF
AFF welcomes £250 million investment in future military housing on Salisbury Plain
FAM team have released some more information for families
UPDATED STATEMENT FROM AFF ON THE INCOME TAX ALLOWANCE EXEMPTION
Additional needs support from AFF in Colchester
Do you feel stereotyped by others ideas of what it’s like to be part of the military community?
AFF begins new spouse employment project with University of Warwick
AFF film highlights FAM work on behalf of Army families
Protecting your home over winter
AFF tackles the Covenant in Wales
AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade puts forward the concerns of Army families
Your Armed Forces Covenant
AFF Germany Roadshow
The Covenant and your family
SFA Compensation Scheme – High Street Vouchers
Another result for AFF – DIO to review CAAS location data
SFA Customer Satisfaction Survey
Improved access to student loans for Army spouses and partners: an AFF win
AFF achieves housing success on behalf of Army families
Celebrating 35 years of support for Army families
Are your dependent children registered on JPA?
Did you know broadband and media packages are now fairer for your family?
Concerns over FAM gain wider coverage
AFF receives Defence response to our FAM Manifesto
MOD's FAM survey results released
Did you know? Good news for homeowners redeployed within the UK
AFF responds to Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution’s announcement concerning tax rates in Scotland.
AFF and the other Families Federations add families’ view to Covenant Annual Report
AFF launches FAM Manifesto on behalf of Army families
Armed Forces children in Wales share their experiences through short films and digital stories
Service families to benefit from CMI membership
Covenant commitments: ensuring your future
FREE accounting courses for Army families
Carillion has been in the news today regarding going into liquidation. AFF has spoken to both CarillionAmey (CA) and DIO, and has subsequently been assured that due to the fact that CA is a joint venture between Carillion and Amey, contingency plans have been put in place by Amey to support the contract and ensure its continuity. Families should not see a difference in service, and are encouraged to continue to report jobs in the usual manner. Click here for an update from CarillionAmey.
Are you finding it difficult to get back into work? AFF needs your help to delve more deeply into the problems that Army spouses and partners can encounter when job hunting. We’ve commissioned the Institute for Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick to examine both the barriers to spousal employment among the Armed Forces, and what more we can do to help spouses into work, with the choice of developing a career. Read more
Spousal employment has been an important focus for AFF for many years, and we’ve worked hard to discover the main difficulties that families face when trying to secure employment for the non-serving members. However, we believe there is still more we can do, and a fresh tri-service approach is needed to dig deeper into this ongoing issue. IER will examine employment statistics, making comparisons with civilian counterparts to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences faced by military families, as well as surveying and interviewing military spouses, key stakeholders and employers.
We are now looking for volunteers to be interviewed for this important project: if you are a spouse or partner of someone serving, we would like to talk to you. You’ll be sent a £15 Amazon voucher after the interview to thank you for taking part. Please click here to read the information sheet, fill in the questions and submit the form:
We will need your telephone number for the interview, but strict ethical procedures ensure that this will not be passed on to any third parties, and will be kept securely in a password-protected folder at the University of Warwick for the purposes of the project. IER researchers will then contact you to arrange a telephone interview to ask you about your experiences of employment. The interview should last around 45 minutes and will be audio-recorded if you agree (if you would prefer not to be audio-recorded, the interviewer will take notes during the interview).
We look forward to hearing from you – your participation is very important to us, and could be pivotal in helping to improve the prospects for military spousal employment.
If you live in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), you will shortly receive a letter informing you about changes to your CAAS banding as a result of a review of location factors.
The letters will be distributed in batches, but you should receive it no later than 15 December. All letters will be dated 15 December for policy reasons. Read more
Why are changes being made?
The current baseline for the CAAS location factor was drawn from information and data compiled by the University of York in 2013.
This has now been revised to take account of updates to the supporting data and, more specifically, the availability and speed of broadband.
To ensure CAAS continues to reflect civilian standards, it has also been decided that from 1 April 2018, the broadband threshold for UK SFA will be increased from 17.8 Mbit/s to the Government Standard for superfast broadband of 24 Mbit/s.
The CAAS location assessment for SFA will take this into account, including updated location data provided by the University of York.
How will this affect my family?
Your final band may go up or down as a result.
SFA already at their final band-for-charge will have an adjustment made to that banding – if the location factor changes result in an increase of two bands, then you will be put on to a transition pathway so that you only see an annual increase of one band.
For SFA on a transition pathway at 1 April 2018, the amended location factors will be applied and the final band-for-charge will be adjusted accordingly, however, you will see no change in charge other than the annual transition increase of one band until the final banding is reached.
Can I challenge any changes?
You will ONLY be able to challenge on location on receipt of this letter – no challenges for condition or modernity etc. will be accepted.
If you wish to challenge the changes on location, you will have 28 days in which to do so – take this into consideration when you receive your letter, as Christmas leave is coming up.
To talk to us about your CAAS banding, contact email@example.com
Is the Armed Forces Covenant helping your family get a fair deal? AFF’s latest campaign attracted a mix of both your positive and negative experiences. Read more
Everyone who took part in our campaign had the chance to WIN a HP tablet courtesy of DXC Technology, and we’re pleased to announce our three winners, chosen at random, are Jade Wighan, Ruth Fry and one other Army spouse, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Thank you to all who shared their Covenant stories, it was interesting to read different perspectives on what families feel the Covenant should be able to help with.
Viv commented that it wasn’t just the big issues that were a challenge: “The thing that upsets me most about moving is that your children rarely get to the top of the waiting list for things like Rainbows or Brownies or ballet classes or gymnastics.”
Another issue raised was the difficulties in accessing basic services such as a bank account, that some face when returning to the UK from a lengthy overseas posting.
From your feedback, we know there are areas where the Covenant is making a positive difference to families. Jade explained: “We moved from Germany back to the UK in October last year, and it looked like we would be put at the bottom of waiting lists for services here, but the Covenant and help of AFF meant that our previous waiting time was taken into account.”
A common theme of Covenant support is employment, with some of the 1,900 organisations who’ve signed the Covenant having made specific pledges around spousal employment. However, the feedback we received was both good and bad.
While some employers clearly understand the need for flexible working and an understanding of the challenges of Army life, others do not. One spouse, who requested more child friendly hours told us: “I was told that they would rather I didn't reduce my hours. Not because they were concerned about me getting my work done in less time, but that the 'person who came after me' might not be able to manage. They said that as a military spouse, they knew I wouldn't be there forever and they will have to replace me.”
AFF and the Covenant
AFF continues to champion the Covenant as we believe it can help families when they are facing a specific challenge or disadvantage.
AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist Laura Lewin explains: “AFF works closely with the Covenant team, Defence Relationship Management, businesses and local authorities in order to ensure the Covenant is working effectively for families and that they are treated fairly. As well as providing guidance and signposting, AFF can use your evidence to help affect positive changes and provide these organisations with valuable feedback. Please do get in touch to tell us how the Covenant is working for you.”
By sharing families’ experiences, and practical ways you can use the Covenant to get a fairer deal, we hope more of you will know what support is available to you if challenges arise.
Covenant & You
More about how your family can call on the Covenant here.
The Government has announced major housing investment across three sites on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. Bulford, Larkhill and Ludgershall will collectively see almost one thousand new homes built to accommodate families rebasing from Germany, as well as those moving within the UK. Read more
AFF welcomes this news and is pleased to see continued progress towards providing for families who’ll be rebasing in the coming years. Our Wiltshire Co-ordinator Carol Morris will continue to support not only new families moving to the area, but those remaining who will see major changes to the landscape and feel of their area.
Investing in families
British company Lovell have already begun pre-construction work and the project is expected to be completed by May 2020.
The new houses will be a mix of three and four bedroom homes, as well as bungalows and adapted homes for those families with specific needs.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “This considerable investment in nearly 1,000 new homes is a reflection of our commitment to supporting Armed Forces families.”
Developing local services
As well as housing, the MOD and local council are busy ensuring families in the area have enough access to services such as healthcare and education. Wiltshire council are spending over £20 million of the MOD’s contribution to ensure this happens.
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said: “Investing not only in new homes, but in all the things that help to make a place feel like home, such as education, infrastructure and leisure facilities, will make a big difference for those returning to the UK after being posted abroad. This boost to the area will provide a close-knit community for Armed Forces and their families for years to come.
The Army Basing Programme has also invested in new facilities in Kinloss, Leuchars, Catterick, South Cerney and North Luffenham, and significant refurbishments have taken place at a number of other MOD sites including York, Aldershot and Thorney Island.
The FAM team have released some more information for families, which discusses the updates and decision making process so far on the Future Accommodation Model. AFF is now starting to work with the FAM comms team, to help ensure that the questions and concerns families really want answered are being put forward for inclusion in the future comms where possible. If you have any specific questions or concerns about FAM, please contact Cat Calder at firstname.lastname@example.org
MOD has responded that "The 2017 budget includes a measure that will make any allowances that will be paid under FAM tax free. This will mean that the total tax paid by someone in SFA and someone using FAM allowances will be the same." However, we know that multiple conversations are still going on to define the final shape of FAM. AFF will extract the main concerns from our families’ comments on social media regarding this tax exemption, and will submit them to the MOD asking for detailed answers on what this will actually mean for families.
AFF’s East Anglia Co-ordinator Claire Hallam and Health & Additional needs Specialist Karen Ross recently attended the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) autumn event in Colchester to meet with families and offer face-to-face AFF support. Read more
As well as giving a talk to the families attending, Karen spoke with Army spouse Julie Johnson, whom she supported with her move from Catterick to Colchester by helping arrange adaptations to the new SFA.
Representatives from DIO, the Children’s Education and Advisory Service (CEAS) and SSAFA were also on hand to help families at what proved to be a positive and useful event for those who attended.
To find out more about AFF’s work on additional needs, click here.
Emma Long, PhD Candidate Sociology/Social Work at Lancaster University, explores how we as a community are perceived by civilians. Have a read here. We’re delighted to see she’s referred to AFF’s own research and evidence and look forward to Emma chairing one of the discussion groups at our Research Symposium next week.
AFF is proud to reveal that, thanks to generous funding from LIBOR, we will now be working in partnership with the Institute for Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick, to deliver a new employment research project. This will involve talking to Army spouses about what support is available now to help them into work, and where there might be gaps to fill. This exciting new venture has already begun, and is due to be completed by April 2018. Read more
A better deal for spouses and partners
Spousal employment has long been on AFF’s radar and we have worked hard to discover the main barriers that Army families face when trying to secure employment for the non-serving members.
While the evidence we have gained so far has been shared with chain of command and policy makers, we still believe there is more work to be done, and that a fresh approach is needed to dig deeper into this ongoing issue.
Exciting new project
Our employment research will involve looking at employment statistics and making comparisons with our civilian counterparts to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences we are faced with, as well as surveying Army spouses.
Families play a vital role
Central to the success of this new work will be you, our Army families, who continue to approach AFF regarding employment and employability. Look out for opportunities to get involved in surveys, interviews and more, as we tackle the issues you have been facing in more depth, to achieve positive changes for your family.
More on employment
With the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) still in its development stage, the Army Families Federation’s (AFF) newly released film highlights how much the charity remains committed to representing and involving families in the process, with the support of the Army and MOD. Read more
Keeping families informed
Understandably, families are keen to know as much information as possible about any changes that are likely to happen.
At our recent Networking Event, Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter spoke about his commitment to the consideration of families when developing policy.
In his speech to our audience of Ministers, MPs and various MOD decision makers, he said: “Thanks, in part, to AFF representing families’ views and presenting evidence to support it, a common factor of all three options is that FAM must maintain the choice of living in a military community where this contributes to unit cohesion - especially Army families, 73% of whom currently live in SFA.”
“we are ensuring that safeguards are in place”
He also gave more of an insight into how FAM will be introduced once further planning has taken place: “FAM will be tested over 3-5 years at a number of locations with each Service proposing sites that suit their respective needs.
“I am expecting the locations to be announced by the end of the year and the proofs of concept (as they are being called) are likely to start at the end of 2018.”
He added: “As part of the phased approach, we are ensuring that there are safeguards in place so that we have the ability to reverse any individual measures that might prove, for some reason, not to meet our requirements.”
We want to reassure you that as AFF learns more about the FAM options and any pilot sites, we will share details with you, to ensure you are kept up-to-date and have the opportunity to share your views and concerns.
AFF’s FAM film
In the meantime, we hope our film shows you just how determined we are to make sure that Army families’ voices are heard every step of the way.
For the latest FAM updates, we recommend you regularly check the AFF website, as well as our social media pages.
To talk to us about housing, email our specialist at email@example.com.
Extreme winter weather can have a real impact on your home – from structural damage to flooding. Read more
Dealing with winter damage can be a stressful time for families, particularly if valuable items and personal possessions are also affected.
For those of you living in SFA, it is important to remember that you are responsible for ensuring your home is adequately protected from winter hazards, even when you are away from the property. You could even be liable for any repairs that are needed if it is found your actions or inactions were responsible for any issues.
In some cases, Licence to Occupy Liability may be covered by your contents insurance, or your soldier’s kit insurance; however we recommend that you check with your insurance provider to make sure.
Further information on insurance policies can be found at siiap.org
AFF was pleased to have had the opportunity to engage with the Welsh Assembly Cross Party Group on Armed Forces and Cadets in the development of their recent report into the effectiveness of the Armed Forces Covenant in Wales. The report was released on 11 November, and includes several key recommendations in support of Army families in Wales. Read more
AFF’s recommendations included championing the consideration of a Service Pupil Premium in Wales and the use of Supporting Service Children in Education Wales resources by Service families and schools with Service children.
We were also pleased that the Committee noted our evidence around local connection requirements for former partners of Service personnel leaving SFA, and has recommended that social landlords waive this requirement to address this issue in Wales.
Finally, a further recommendation was mitigating disadvantages around NHS waiting lists in Wales by recognising time served when families move to the area, particularly if the waiting time is longer.
Find out more
To talk to us about your Welsh posting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade was delighted to be able to have the opportunity of putting the concerns of Army families before the new Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson and the Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green when they met, along with the other two Families’ Federations at the Cabinet Office on Wednesday. She was attending the Covenant Reference Group External Partners Meeting, where they also discussed the role of the Covenant and how it can be properly and evenly applied across all areas relating to our Armed Forces. The very important issue of accommodation was also raised, particularly in relation to the Future Accommodation Model and the variable standards of dwellings occupied by single soldiers. Other attendees included the Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood, and Chief of Defence People Lt Gen Richard Nugee.
‘I was very glad to meet the new Secretary of State for Defence as well as the Deputy Prime Minster,’ Sara said, speaking after the meeting. ‘We’re honoured to be included in these very important conversations with policy makers, and will always take every opportunity to convey our Army families’ issues to those we believe have the power to make changes.’
Have you faced unfair disadvantage simply because of your military lifestyle?
Did a Covenant policy help you get a fair deal?
Share your experience of the Armed Forces Covenant with us and help us build a picture of the real Covenant in action – you could win one of three HP tablets courtesy of DXC Technology, just for taking part. Read more
No survey, no quick poll, no form filling.
We want to hear your story, and what’s more, we want to share it with others to help uncover what the Covenant can truly offer Army families.
Did you catch Penny Davies’ story in the latest edition of Army&You magazine (pg10)? After facing unfair disadvantage when renting out her home, Penny contacted her mortgage provider Scottish Widow to secure a better deal. Read about her success, and how some high street lenders are supporting Service families here.
Share your success
Whether housing help or school support; pension progress or an understanding employer – tell us via Facebook or email us at email@example.com. You can even tweet about your success using #CovenantandMe
We’d love to feature your success in our upcoming Covenant campaign – get in touch for more details.
AFF’s Germany Roadshow in Montgomery’s, Paderborn, was one of our most successful ever, with a high turnout of families taking the chance to speak directly to the chain of command and subject matter experts from all walks of Army life.
This year we were honoured to have the presence of Brigadier Ian Bell, Commander British Forces Germany, and Brigadier Mike Elviss, Commander 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade on our panel, as well as AFF’s Chief Exec, Sara Baade, who facilitated the many questions from all the families attending. Read the full article.
In a recent AFF quick poll, 84% of you had heard about the Armed Forces Covenant, but almost two thirds didn’t think it made a difference to their family.
We’re really keen to make you aware of relevant Covenant policies and developments and highlight the special considerations in place to guard against unfair disadvantage due to your soldier’s service. Read more
Wondering how the Covenant can support your family?
Here are ten ways…
- If you have school-aged children in England, the Service Pupil Premium is a £300 payment your child’s school can access to support your child. More here. The school admissions code also means that schools can exceed the 30-pupil limit for infant classes to accommodate your Service child.
- If you have a mobile phone and are posted overseas, most mobile phone providers will let you suspend your UK contract. Find out what’s been pledged here.
- If you have accompanied your soldier overseas any time since 1975, you can protect your state pension with national insurance credits. Read more.
- If you own a home but need to rent it out due to a posting, you shouldn’t face higher mortgage charges or have to change your existing mortgage deal to a buy-to-let mortgage. Full details here.
- If you want to gain a qualification while overseas, you can access a loan via Student Finance England for a qualifying, UK based university or college course, without being in the UK on the first day of the course. More here.
- If you need flexible employment with an employer who understands the challenges of military life, over 1,900 organisations have signed the Covenant. See the full list of signatories and their individual Covenant pledges, some of which include support for spousal employment, here.
- If you are returning to the UK and seeking employment, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed that spouses and children (up to 21 years) are exempt from the three- month residence rule, which means you can apply for Jobseekers allowance straight away. Full details here.
- If you have a broadband or media package but are posted to an area (UK or overseas) where you cannot access the service, you should now be exempt from cancellation fees. BT, Sky, TalkTalk and others covering 95% of the market have signed up. Read more.
- If you own a car, you can keep your no claims bonus for three years if posted abroad – some providers offer longer, so it’s worth checking. You should also save on fees if cancelling your policy at short notice. More here.
- If you own a vacant but furnished second home while you live in SFA/SSFA, you are entitled to a 50% reduction in council tax. Full details here.
As Covenant news and developments happen, our Covenant&You campaign will keep you up-to-date. We’ll also continue to push for improved policies to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
Get in touch
If you are facing any sort of commercial disadvantage, or wish to find out how the Covenant can support your family, get in touch with AFF.
AFF is delighted to report that DIO has announced that the problems surrounding the issue of High Street Vouchers to successful SFA Compensation Scheme claimants have now been resolved. Read more
Claimants are now being sent details of the appropriate codes to allow vouchers to be redeemed from their supplier’s site.
The Compensation Team is working to clear the backlog of successful claims on a date approved basis; it is expected this will be cleared by mid-November.
DIO apologises for the time taken to resolve this issue. The Compensation Scheme remains open for new claims.
UPDATE: Please be aware that compensation vouchers will be emailed to you - it would appear that some are ending up in junk folders. If you have recently applied for compensation for a missed appointment or a failed move in (or are still waiting for vouchers from earlier on in the year) make sure that you check your junk mail folder!
Find out more
Full details of the scheme, including eligibility, can be found here, or read more on pg31 of the latest edition of Army&You magazine.
We’re delighted to be able to report that DIO will now be reviewing some of the factors affecting proposed changes to Army families’ final CAAS band, specifically relating to location. Read more
These changes were first reported a few months ago, and the original timeline for implementation of these largely increased charges, based on CAAS location factors, was to be from September 2017, giving families at least 93 days’ notice.
It’s become apparent that in order to ensure that the data is accessible to families, some of the factors, including the broadband baseline, required further investigation.
As a result, no changes to final CAAS bands due to location will now be made until 1 April 2018, once the review has been completed, families will be notified, still giving the original amount of 93 days’ notice of any changes to the final CAAS band. The charges will not be backdated.
For those families already at the final CAAS band, an adjustment will be made to that banding, and for those still transitioning SFA, the location factors will be taken into account and the final band for charge will be amended.
No letters will be sent to SFA regarding the location review and any associated CAAS band changes until the review is finished.
AFF’s been working hard to help bring about this development and we’re pleased that DIO has taken our concerns on board and is working to try to make the process simpler.
Find out more Contact our AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder at firstname.lastname@example.org
DIO has appointed a new supplier to carry out their regular SFA customer satisfaction survey. Read more
In future, Opinion Research Service (ORS) will be carrying out these short phone surveys.
Until now, DIO has selected 200 UK SFA occupants to take part in the monthly survey. DIO has now increased this to 500 occupants who will be contacted. The overseas survey will also recommence in October 2017.
Your feedback helps shape the future delivery of Service Family Accommodation. If ORS contacts you, please take the opportunity to let them hear your views.
Please rest assured that your personal data will remain safe and secure.
If you have any queries related to the Customer Satisfaction Survey, please contact the accommodation team at DIOSDAccn-SSM1a@mod.uk.
As of 1 August 2017, Army families posted overseas who wish to undertake a qualifying UK based university or college course can access a loan via Student Finance England. This applies to both full and part time courses, and you no longer need to be in the UK for the first day of the course to qualify. Read more
An AFF win
Last year, we were proud to publicise this AFF win, announced by the Universities Minister Jo Johnson, after much lobbying and joint working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The change applies to new students starting a distance learning course in 2017/18 and also to those who have already started a distance learning course before and who are continuing that course in 2017/18.
Unfortunately, this does not apply to those from the devolved nations. To be eligible, you must qualify for the English student support package.
Putting families first
AFF continues to prioritise spousal employment and training, and this includes those posted overseas who sometimes cannot work and so choose to undertake a course during that time.
Find out more
For more information and full eligibility criteria, visit www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies
AFF is delighted to announce that after taking families’ concerns surrounding recent letters about the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme (CAAS) banding to the DIO CAAS team they have agreed to take positive action to investigate the increased final charge issue some of you were facing. Read more
Families’ evidence proves vital
Families contacted AFF to say they had received a letter advising them of a jump in grade, which meant some homes jumped by more than one band based on a review of location and surveys that had been conducted throughout the year.
However, families were told they could only appeal on the location piece and not on anything relating to the survey results.
After listening to your concerns, we approached DIO on your behalf.
We’re now happy to say that DIO has agreed that, where the final banding of an SFA has jumped by two or more grades, it will be fully investigated.
AFF has asked DIO that next year they ensure the letters reminding families of the increase in CAAS band due to transition pathways are sent out early March – these letters are simply reminders, you won’t be able to challenge its contents.
AFF has asked that any letters regarding a change to the final band as a result of surveys or data reviews follow the correct procedure and time frame and that families are given the chance to appeal where they feel any changes are not correct.
For the full article and more information, click here.
This year, AFF is celebrating 35 years of support for Army families.
From humble beginnings as the Federation of Army Wives Clubs back in 1982, we’ve evolved into a worldwide charity, working on behalf of all Army families – Regular and Reserve, wherever you are based, whatever the make-up of your family. Read more
Facing challenge together
Together we’ve faced many challenges. We’ve supported families during times of conflict, including in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Kosovo and, more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’d love you to share your stories of support with us – tell us what brought you to AFF for advice or support.
Over time, we’ve branched out into more locations across the globe. In 1989, we developed a team in Germany and in 1994, we set up our Cyprus team. So many Army families have since passed through these locations on posting and, no matter where the Army sends you, we now have a team of dedicated overseas staff to make sure you’re never far from our support.
In May 1996 we were renamed the Army Families Federation and continued our hard work to improve the lives of Army families, tackling the issues you face and ensuring the Army family voice is heard by the MOD, government and other decision makers.
Making sense of Army life’s changes
With the constant changes of Army family life, we work hard to secure, and then make families aware of, positive developments, which we hope improve the experiences of your Army family.
Our quarterly magazine Army&You provides a great snapshot of the Army community and has developed over the years into a professional publication dedicated to the families we serve.
We want families to feel confident that we are with you every step of the way of your Army family journey. We firmly believe that, together, we are one Army, one family.
With the development of the Armed Forces Covenant, we continue to make sure the nation’s promise is truly meaningful, and work in collaboration with other businesses, charities and local authorities to bring the promises of the Covenant to life.
Watch our film
We invite you to take a step through history with our special, 35th anniversary film and see how far we’ve come.
Declaring dependent Service children on JPA can enable appropriate allowances to be obtained, enable paternity and adoption leave requests and can have an influence on allocation of Service housing and potential assignments.
To complete the registration process, your soldier should provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate to their unit HR who will complete the JPA process. For more information, contact DCYP-DCYP-Mailbox@mod.uk
AFF is delighted with the announcement from Defence Minister Mark Lancaster that Service personnel posted within the UK or overseas will no longer have to face cancellation fees for their broadband and media packages. Read more
Tens of thousands of Forces households in the UK and abroad are likely to benefit from this positive change, which recognises the unfair disadvantage many military families have been facing due to their mobile lifestyle.
Who’s on board?
BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, who represent 95 per cent of the market, are all on board, and this change has come into force with immediate effect.
The exemption will apply only in locations where the provider does not currently operate and you will be required to provide proof of your soldier’s assignment.
AFF is currently determining whether retrospective cases can be investigated. We’ll update families as we learn more.
A welcome move
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster, said: “The removal of cancellation fees by leading broadband providers is yet another example of the Covenant in action, which is making sure our brave personnel are treated fairly. It’s a welcome move and we’re looking forward to seeing what more British businesses can do to support our military”
More Covenant info
To find out more about how the Covenant is bringing fair improvements for the Armed Forces community, visit www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk
AFF is delighted to see journalists and politicians supporting military families’ and our own concerns around the Future Accommodation Model (FAM). Read more
Independent think tank The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has released Homes Fit For Heroes: A housing strategy for the modern armed forces. The CSJ aims to give people in the UK who are experiencing disadvantage and injustice, the opportunity to reach their full potential.
In their report, they outline ideas to address several concerns surrounding FAM and specifically look at how subsidised housing enables soldiers to serve, accompanied by their families.
In response to the report, AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade says:
“We are delighted that the CSJ are shining a light on the hugely important issue of housing for our Armed Forces and their families. Like the CSJ, we do appreciate that budgetary constraints need to be considered in any review of accommodation policy and that there are many different views in this discussion. It is therefore encouraging to see the firm grasp they have on the situation, in that, a solution to this housing issue cannot be found in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, as is being put forward by FAM. Each service must be taken in isolation, in relation to accommodation, to ensure that serving personnel and their families receive the most appropriate support.
“The changes that are being proposed by the MOD have the potential to have a hugely negative effect, not only on the nature of our Armed Forces in the future, but also how we honour and protect those who sacrifice so much in the line of duty to serve our country. Indeed, 76% of respondents to AFF’s survey on FAM said they would definitely leave or consider leaving the Army if FAM is introduced.
“It is important that any changes to the policy for accommodation under FAM are not blindly pushed through in the name of cost cutting measures and supposed modernisation, but are carefully considered with proper consultation and evidence, with families and serving personnel at the heart of the matter.”
Find out more
Click here to read the full report from the CSJ.
To read a Times article on this issue, from 20 March, click here.
Following on from the incredible reaction we had to our Big Survey 2016: The Future of Military Housing, we developed the AFF FAM Manifesto as a direct response to the feedback we received from families.
Here at AFF, we try to be balanced in our approach to all things, including the proposals around FAM, and appreciate there are many different views in this discussion. Read more
Our FAM Manifesto, therefore, represents the majority view from our families, based on the evidence we gathered from the survey, and we are now using it to demonstrate the strong feelings and concerns around FAM.
We have been working hard to make sure families’ voices are heard in this debate and our staff have been using the Manifesto in meetings with key MOD officials, MPs and civil servants.
Response from MOD
Most recently, we asked Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO, CBE, who, as Chief of Defence People (CDP), has the responsibility of planning and implementing FAM, to submit a response to our Manifesto, giving Defence’s views and feedback on FAM directly to families.
We are pleased that he accepted our invitation, as this shows Defence’s commitment to keeping families abreast of any developments and ensuring that their views are considered when developing FAM, a proposal that will drastically change the way you, as Army families, live in the future.
A copy of General Nugee’s letter can be found here and, whilst encouraging, AFF will be investigating some elements further and discussing them with the FAM team. To view AFF’s thoughts, click the linked sections within the letter.
The findings from the MOD’s FAM survey, which attracted over 12,000 responses from Army personnel, have now been released. AFF wants to make clear that this survey was created and driven by MOD and was separate to our own Big Survey 2016: The Future of Military Housing. Read more
While we are encouraged that families and personnel are being consulted, the results of the MOD’s survey confirm our fears that there is still too much of a gap between the expectations of FAM and the reality of it.
There are also huge gaps in knowledge and information, which can prevent Service personnel and their families from making an informed decision on this important issue. According to the survey, 43% of the Service personnel who responded had never heard of FAM prior to taking the survey. With that in mind, AFF questions how relevant and reliable the results of the survey are.
AFF continues to work on ensuring FAM will not represent a reduction in the ‘offer’ to families, if and when it is implemented. Our FAM Manifesto outlines the key points we feel need further investigation based on feedback from families.
You can also see our Chief Executive, Sara Baade, voicing her concerns around FAM.
If you have any concerns around housing in general or of FAM, please contact our Housing Specialist at email@example.com
AFF is pleased to learn that the Government has extended support available to Service personnel and their families who own a home but are then posted overseas, to include those redeployed within the UK. Read more
Under the agreement, military families are able to rent out their home without facing higher costs or having to change their mortgage.
The recent announcement from Defence Minister Mark Lancaster will help to ensure that personnel and their families are treated more fairly in line with the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Minister said: “This extension means our brave men and women will save time and money when they are fulfilling vital roles across the country, and is another example of how the Covenant is making a real difference.”
The initiative is supported by 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies and is an extension to the original offer made back in January 2016, for which AFF campaigned for some time.
Find out more about AFF’s work on this issue here.
For further advice and guidance, email firstname.lastname@example.org
AFF responds to Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution’s announcement concerning tax rates in Scotland.
The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay, confirmed that he would not change income tax rates or bands and would also not replicate the UK Treasury’s tax cut for higher earners. This means that the 40% income tax rate will start at £43,430 in Scotland but will start at £45,000 elsewhere in the UK from April 2017. For further information on this, please click here.
AFF is concerned that if this is applied to military personnel serving in Scotland, some could face a significant financial disadvantage as a result of their jobs. We are urgently seeking clarification from the MOD as to whether there will be an exemption for military personnel and will update families as soon as we know more.
The Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report for 2016 is now published and, once again, the Families Federations were invited to comment and give serving families’ view on this important document. Read more
The report highlights Covenant successes in education, health and employment, amongst other areas. The comments from the Families Federations offer a balanced approach, highlighting where improvements are needed and celebrating those that have already been made.
AFF was particularly pleased this year to learn about new National Insurance credits to protect the State Pension of spouses who previously accompanied their soldier overseas. Improved access to student funding for distance learning courses while overseas is another step in the right direction in tackling the disadvantages that military families still face.
Considerable progress has been made during 2016 to remove the disadvantages some of you face when accessing commercial products and services such as mobile phones, mortgages and motor insurance – all of which AFF has highlighted to you through our various channels. We are also hopeful of more improvements in this area for 2017.
More to be done
However, overall, there is more to be done. Housing is still a major concern for AFF, despite statistics showing recent improvement. We know that the ‘lived experience’ of many families remains poor, causing you stress and frustration. There is also increasing nervousness about the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), which has the potential to change radically the way that accommodation is provided in the future. AFF continues to prioritise this issue and has developed the AFF FAM Manifesto to help bring your views to the fore when decisions are made.
Another area of concern for AFF is Foreign & Commonwealth, where we unfortunately still see a lack of commitment to remove disadvantage. Families continue to tell us that overseas assignments in particular can cause specific issues relating to residency, passports and obtaining National Insurance numbers. We would like to see these matters addressed by the Covenant during 2017 and will continue to offer our own support in the best way we can.
Find out more
AFF continues to work with the Covenant, which is acting as a driving force for many positive changes for military families. To read the annual report and the Families Federations’ comments in full, click here.
AFF’s work to make the Covenant more meaningful to families is ongoing. Look out for Covenant news, updates and facts across our website and social media as part of our ‘Did you know…?’ campaign, or click here to read more about our Covenant work.
Following on from AFF’s work ensuring Army families’ voices are heard during planning for the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), we have now developed the AFF FAM Manifesto. Read more
Our manifesto outlines the key actions we believe must be taken in order for FAM to be viable and, most importantly, fair to you, the families.
Using your evidence
Our manifesto is based on the results of this summer’s AFF Big Survey: The Future of Military Housing. More than 8,300 of you responded to our survey, an indication of just how important this issue is to families. Our manifesto represents the majority view from families based on the evidence you gave us.
The AFF FAM Manifesto
We want to ensure that the evidence you gave us is not ignored and our manifesto sets out ways to make sure this does not happen. To view the full AFF FAM Manifesto, please click here.
We launched the manifesto at our annual Networking Event in November, which was attended by the Chief of The General Staff, Sir Nicholas Carter KCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, CVO, CBE and a number of key MOD and Whitehall officials, all of whom have now received a copy of the AFF FAM Manifesto. We have also held one-to-one meetings with all those mentioned above, to really drive home the concerns of Army families. As part of these meetings, we have continued to question how your views will be considered.
We have also been communicating with a number of MPs around the issues that FAM could create and will keep you updated as and when we know more.
Find out more
Further updates surrounding our work on FAM will be published via our website and social media.
Two powerful films and a bank of digital stories have been launched to raise awareness of what life is like for Armed Forces schoolchildren in Wales. Read more
Pupils, parents and staff at Llantwit Major High School and Prendergast Community Primary School have made the films, with support from the MOD, Army Families Federation, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and Storyworks UK.
The initiative has been co-ordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association’s (WLGA) Supporting Service Children in Education Cymru project (SSCE Cymru).
A snapshot of Service life
Speaking at the launch event, Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM said: “We hope these online films and digital stories will help schools and local authorities understand the circumstances that Service children sometimes find themselves as well as providing a snap shot into the lives of Service children in Wales today.”
Cllr Brendan Toomey, WLGA spokesperson said: “These powerful films give a snap shot of what life can be like for the children of serving personnel. These videos and resources can be used as a training and teaching aid for educational professionals and for other Service children in Wales and beyond to hear the experiences of other young people with serving parents.”
Pupils share their stories
Storyworks UK also ran workshops with pupils that would allow them to share their own stories about what it’s like to have a parent in the Armed Forces. These workshops were turned into a bank of two-minute digital stories, capturing the children’s experiences.
AFF helps improve awareness
AFF Regional Manager North Annabel Ingram said: “Being involved in the project right from the beginning meant that I was able to contribute on behalf of AFF, and as a parent. I used our evidence from families to help the wider audience understand the unique situation Service children can find themselves in. The project has been a huge success and it was fantastic to be part of it. I hope many people view and use the films and digital stories.”
Find out more
All the films are available on the project website www.sscecymru.co.uk
AFF is pleased with news the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support Service spouses and partners in gaining leadership qualifications to help them further their career. Read more
AFF has worked for a long time to highlight the challenges Army spouses and partners can face when finding and maintaining employment – a key issue that features firmly in the Covenant.
Supporting career development
Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute said: “We’re proud to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and help families of the heroic men and women who serve our country get the support they need to develop their careers.”
CMI has pledged support for Service spouses and partners through their MOD Family Membership Scheme, which provides access to discounted leadership, mentoring and coaching qualifications – the scheme is offered FREE to Service children aged 16-18 years. They are also committed to supporting the military spouses and Reservists they employ with flexible working where possible.
Valuing Service families
Participating in the Covenant signing, Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said: “The families of our Service personnel are an important part of the Covenant. We value and are grateful to them – the unsung heroes who support our Armed Forces. Knowing that the nation and organisations like the Chartered Management Institute recognises this is extremely important and fundamental in making the Armed Forces Covenant work.”
Find out more
For some useful FAQs about the scheme click here.
Find out more about the Armed Forces Covenant by visiting www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk
Did you know that as part of the commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, you and your soldier should not be disadvantaged in your career goals and pension? Read more
Some of the ways the Covenant works to ensure this include:
- Jobcentre Plus Armed Forces Champions focus specifically on the support, advice and guidance provided by Jobcentre Plus to ensure they reflect the needs of the Service community.
- Working with Employers so that they understand the benefits of employing Service leavers and Reservists, as well as the need for flexible employment policies.
- Exemption, when returning from overseas, from UK residency rules when seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- National Insurance credits for Service spouses and partners for time spent accompanying their partner abroad to ensure that they receive their full State Pension when they retire.
For more on AFF’s Covenant work, click here.
If you’re interested in bolstering your employment skills, why not apply to take part in the ACCA-X programme from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Read more
ACCA offers FREE online courses leading to a qualification that is recognised throughout the world, ideal for that overseas posting.
The course itself is FREE but there is a fee to register with ACCA and to take the exams.
Gain access to career support
By registering, you will also gain access to the ACCA Careers site, with thousands of vacancies, careers support and advice, as well as invites to networking and career-building events. As a student member, you will also have access to additional courses and learning opportunities.
Register your place
To apply, email email@example.com
It is important that you state you are part of an Army family who saw this promotion on the AFF Facebook page.