Latest News & Information


On this page:

22 Jan - Getting it right at your move-in
21 Jan - Volunteer programme: one year on
16 Jan - Heating and Boilers: an update from CarillionAmey
13 Jan - New School Admissions Code 2014
12 Jan - Online careers fair
The new CarillionAmey contract: an update
Local authorities lead the way in housing support for divorced spouses
New ‘Walk away’ scheme from CarillionAmey
Supporting Service children in Education Cymru: have your say
Counting the cost of your overseas posting
Justice for widows: a success story
Latest rebasing news for BFG families
Op valleys: your posting to Wales
No move on top grade house prices
Ebola Virus Disease Information and Q&As
New support service for carers in the Forces community
Looking after your SFA
Army families give AFF the big picture
Headline findings from the NEM Consultation
Good news for Service voters
Struggling to get help to buy?
New Employment Model Myth Buster

 

Getting it right at your move-in

Getting it right at move-inIs your family due to move soon?

Did you know there is a new process for the move-in appointment which the Accommodation Officer (AO) must follow?

During the appointment, the AO should now go round the house with you with a tick sheet for you to ensure that the house is at move-in standard.

It is very important that you do this - once you sign the paperwork you are agreeing that it is at move-in standard.

If any issues come to light during the walk round, the faults should be fixed within 24 hours of move-in.

Find out more

For everything you need to know about this new process, visit the CarillionAmey (CA) website.

For a copy of the tick sheet, click here.

If you have any issues with the AO not following the new process or not doing the tick sheet with you, please do make an official complaint to CA on 0800 707 6000 (option 5) and let AFF know by emailing housing@aff.org.uk

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Volunteer programme: one year on

After being approached by a number of people wanting to volunteer, AFF set up an inclusive programme led by Volunteer Manager, Rachel Fallows.

Established a year ago, the programme has proven to be a roaring success, helping with our mission, being role led and offering a new way for people to get involved with AFF’s work.

Rachel explains: “People have always come forward, wanting to volunteer. Many of those who have been helped by AFF are often keen to give something back. We’ve received interest from around the world – from Germany to Canada – our programme appeals to a variety of people.”

So far, 60 volunteers have proffered their time for AFF. Roles have included publicity volunteers, foreign & commonwealth volunteers, event volunteers and more.

So what’s it like to volunteer for AFF?

Jo and JulieAFF caught up with Jo Gordon and Julie Noller, local publicity volunteers in Wiltshire, at a local coffee morning. Julie says: “It takes confidence to be a volunteer – being able to say ‘hi’. I like to know what’s going on and the only way to do that is to get out there and get involved!”

In 18 years Julie has moved six times. She describes how being a volunteer has helped her to meet new people: “I like to know I’m putting something back into the community. As a military wife who’s moved around, it also fills my employment gaps as well as providing me with some adult company! It’s nice to be a link in the chain.”

Our volunteers allow AFF to reach people face to face rather than through the door – working at the grassroots of the community, one volunteer can be the voice of many Army families.

Jo, who has volunteered for us for around six months, encourages others to step up and be part of AFF: “Why not? There are so many benefits both personally and for your local community. As a local volunteer attending coffee mornings it’s nice to have somewhere to go – it doesn’t take up all of your time but it can make a real difference to someone.”

Spotlight on overseas

Are you currently posted overseas? Whether Turkey, Holland, the Middle East or USA, we need you to promote what AFF does and how we support Army families.

Could you:

  • Attend events?
  • Highlight issues and concerns?
  • Provide AFF with vital feedback?

For more information about this post, visit the volunteer website.

Volunteer starJoin the AFF family

Share your skills! If you have time to give, we can offer you a great team ethos, a flexible role and the chance to give something back to your Army community.

Volunteering with us has some great benefits:

  • Build your CV
  • Socialise with other Army families
  • Build your confidence

Visit the volunteer website or contact our Volunteer Manager, Rachel Fallows, at volmanager@aff.org.uk to discuss the skills you already have which could make a huge difference to AFF and the community. 

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Heating and Boilers: an update from CarillionAmey

AFF would like to reassure families that we are working very closely with CarillionAmey (CA) to monitor the start of the new contract and we are collecting evidence of issues (and successes) from you which we are passing on to CA to help them pinpoint the areas where there appear to be problems so that these can be ironed out.

AFF has been asked to put out the following information by CA with reference to heating and boiler issues.

Speech marks Heating and Boilers

CarillionAmey aim to provide a high level of service to our customers. We understand the importance of good customer service and we know that some of our customers are experiencing longer waiting times for boiler replacements and repairs. We have put a number of improvement Speech marks measures in place to ensure that these initial teething problems are resolved as quickly as possible. Please be assured that we are doing all we can as a business to make sure that our customers receive the high level of service they rightly deserve. 

 

AFF would encourage any families having issues with CA to continue to talk to the Helpdesk and to also put in stage 1 complaints so that trends can be identified. Call CA on 0800 707 6000 Option 5 to make a complaint (make sure that you ask for a reference number to ensure that it has been logged).

If you have any issues or concerns about the new contract, please contact AFF at housing@aff.org.uk

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New School Admissions Code 2014

AFF in ActionThe new School Admissions Code 2014 for England has been published. This is great news for Army families. We responded to the consultation at the end of last year and now Army families are mentioned in more places in the code!

In summary, children eligible for the Service Premium can receive priority (along with other groups of children) in oversubscribed schools, and Service children feature on the priority list for state boarding school admissions. This may take a while as admissions authoritites will need to consult on any changes they make.

If you would like to see the references to Service children in the new code, then please click here. If you would like to read the code in full, then please click here

If you have any comments or questions then please email Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk.

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Online careers fair

CivvyStreet virtual careers fairThe Royal British Legion's CivvyStreet is running a virtual careers-fair on 27-28 January. 

Spouses, partners, and dependants are invited to attend the event, as well as Service leavers and veterans.

There will be plenty of jobs at the event suitable for partners and spouses right across the UK.

Using a ‘live chat messenger’ facility, directly message employers such as:

  • British Gas
  • NHS professionals
  • Persimmon Homes
  • TNS Global
  • QubeGB

There will be guaranteed telephone interviews for any position you apply for, so remember to have your CV up-to-date!

Many of the employers involved have employer banks, so if your family is posted elsewhere, there may be potential for you to continue with your career.

This event is free for all registered CivvyStreet members. Not yet registered? Go to www.civvystreet.org or contact etam@aff.org.uk for further information. 

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The new CarillionAmey contract: an update

AFF is hopeful that the new housing contract has addressed the majority of issues within the old contract and that the service you receive will be as good if not better in the long run.

As with any big process change, there will be some issues and these need to be addressed quickly so that the process can run smoothly.

What is your experience?

There’s a lot of talk about the new contract. As an evidence based organisation, we need to know the facts in order for us to feed back to CarillionAmey (CA) about any issues you are experiencing - please do get in touch with us.

In some areas boilers are taking longer to repair than usual due to the contractor changing over and legacy jobs being left. CA are closely monitoring this issue to ensure it is sorted as quickly as possible; in the short term you may find that it takes longer to get your heating back.

You should be given fan heaters as an alternative heat source and will have to use the emersion heater for hot water – if you don’t have one or other of these, let CA know via the helpdesk on 0800 707 6000.

NB Reported a job under the old contract which hasn’t been actioned yet? Ensure you call CA to check that it has been transferred to the new contract.

We want to hear from you

The new contract started in Scotland and NI on 1 November and in England and Wales on 1 December.

Have you:

  • not received a new CarillionAmey guide to living in SFA
  • been promised a call back from the Helpdesk and not had one
  • had workmen not turn up for appointments (were you called to be told?)
  • not had repairs done within the required number of days according to the guide
  • not had pre-move-out appointments met (were you called to be told?)
  • had a request for an incidental new work appointment (INW) cancelled without your knowledge
  • had a move-in appointment and if so were you left with a guide to combat condensation and your 14 day report form to fill in? How did you feel the appointment went, did it follow the new process set out in the guide? Were you given a copy of the Occupancy Form?

If you’ve experienced any these issues (or any other issues), please contact AFF at housing@aff.org.uk  

Make it official

It is very important that you put in an official complaint to CA if you’ve had any problems so that they can get a clear picture of how they are performing.

Make sure you get a complaint reference number - if you say you are unhappy and they apologise, or if you post on the FB page, this may not get recorded as a complaint, be sure to make it official.

Change for the better?

Had a really good experience with the new contract? Let CA know so that they can use this to establish best practice.

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Local authorities lead the way in housing support for divorced spouses

A number of separated and divorced spouses contacted AFF to tell us you were unable to register for social housing due to a lack of local connection to your chosen area as a result of the mobility associated with Army life.

AFF in action

AFF in ActionWe highlighted this disadvantage to both central and local government and are delighted to announce that two local authorities are now leading the way in supporting such families.

After meeting with AFF, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham council have confirmed their commitment to supporting the Armed Forces - including separated spouses of serving personnel – by including them in the criteria for their affordable housing programme. 

Improving policy

Cheshire West & Chester council has also become the first local authority to amend its social housing policy to make it easier for separated and divorced Army spouses to register for social housing. 

By waiving the local connection criterion for Armed Forces spouses, you will now have equal right to apply for social housing in your preferred area.

Our work continues

We would like to see other local authorities match this good practice.

AFF continues to work with individual local authorities and central government on this issue, particularly highlighting the effect on children within families who will remain part of the Armed Forces community whilst a parent is still serving.

If you’re experiencing difficulties accessing social housing due to a lack of local connection, contact Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, at housing@aff.org.uk 

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New ‘Walk away’ scheme from CarillionAmey

Many of you have asked AFF about the new Walk Away scheme from CarillionAmey and what it includes.

As of 1 November, CarillionAmey have reinstated the pre-move-out appointment for all move-outs booked after that date.

During your pre-move-out appointment, you will have the chance to choose from the following elements to be cleaned under the Walk Away scheme:

  • Basic clean
  • Carpets – on a room by room basis
  • Cooker

A basic clean will include:

  • General overall cleanliness – removal of dust, dirt, mould and marks from all surfaces including tiled surfaces; all kitchen and bathroom surfaces and fittings will be free from mould and lime scale
  • Vinyl flooring will be cleaned and any minor stains and scuffs will be spot cleaned
  • Internal joinery - all surfaces will be cleaned and dust, dirt, mould and surface marks will be removed. Horizontal surfaces will be dust free
  • Windows - window casements will be free of debris, internal seal will be free from algae and mould
  • Glass - will be free from smears on both sides visible from 2 metres during daylight
  • Light fittings
  • Extractor fans will be free from grease and carbon
  • Radiators will be free from dirt and dust, including the fins and valves
  • Garages and outbuildings will be swept clean
  • All necessary refuse and recycling bins will be cleaned

The scheme has been priced to be less expensive than it would be to be charged at move-out. For a breakdown of costs, click here.

If you have already booked a move-out and need information on how to book the Walk Away scheme, please contact CarillionAmey on 0800 707 6000. From the 1 December there will be a dedicated e-mail address for the scheme available on the CarillionAmey website.

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Supporting Service children in Education Cymru: have your say

Are you a Service family living in Wales?

AFF in ActionWhether Regular or Reserve, if your child attends a Welsh school, AFF invites you to complete a short survey by the Welsh Local Government Association to have your say on the issues affecting your child’s education.

The survey is anonymous and is open until 30 April 2015 – visit www.sscecymru.co.uk/parents-survey to take part.

Find out more 

For more information about the Supporting Service children in education Cymru project, including a separate survey for your child’s school to complete, visit www.sscecymru.co.uk 

For support and guidance on any aspect relating to education or childcare, contact AFF’s Education and Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott, at ec@aff.org.uk 

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Counting the cost of your overseas posting

AFF recently closed its survey on Disturbance Expense and we owe you a huge thank you! 

Incredibly, over 1,000 of you took part over the past week or so from 47 countries spanning six continents – from the USA to Malaysia to South Africa.

Falling short

The survey showed that a staggering 90% of you don’t think that Disturbance Expense is enough - in other words, 9 out of 10 people who responded felt that an overseas posting left them out of pocket.  

Whether you have to shell out thousands for a car or buy white goods because your quarter is not supplied with them and your removals allowance was too small to take your own - the vast majority of you said that serving overseas can cost you dearly.

As one family said “I have served abroad on a number of occasions and every single one of those moves has cost me significant amounts of money. Why should I pay out myself when I am following an order?”

Crucial evidence

As well as saying what you think about the current level of Disturbance Expense and what it covers, you provided us with crucial evidence about what you end up spending money on and how much you actually spend.

We have produced a report about your comments, thoughts and opinions which has already gone to the chain of command.

We will produce a shorter report for the website which will be available in the next couple of weeks and we will feedback to you via our website as soon as we hear the outcome of the review of Disturbance Expense.

You share, AFF listens

This survey shows that hundreds, if not thousands, of you have really useful comments to make and evidence to provide about overseas postings.

A lot of work is being done to look at the package you get when you are overseas and we are keen to represent your opinions as effectively as we can; keep an eye out for future surveys so that you can continue to have a strong voice and to help secure a better deal.

If there is anything you would like to raise about overseas postings, drop us a line at overseas@aff.org.uk 

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Justice for widows: a success story

AFF welcomes the news that the Justice for Widows campaign has achieved its aim of ensuring that all widow/ers will be able to keep their pension if they re-marry or cohabit.

Unfair disadvantage for spouses

Under current legislation, widow/ers whose soldier was on a pre-2005 pension scheme, including thousands of spouses whose soldier is still serving, would have lost their pension if they had remarried or co-habited – they faced a dreadful choice of financial security or happiness.

Army spouses are likely to have reduced income and pensions of their own due to supporting the soldier, and their mobile lifestyle. Re-establishing their own career can be significantly challenging leading to a genuine need to retain their widows pension.

AFF in action

AFF has worked with the Forces Pension Society on this issue for the last year.

We have highlighted it to Anna Soubry MP, Minister Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans during Covenant Reference Group meetings, the Families Federations meeting and most recently at AFF’s Big Debate where the Minister revealed that the Armed Forces Covenant may be used to resolve the issue.

We thank Major-General John Moore-Bick of the Forces Pension Society for his tenacity and enthusiasm in keeping the issue at the forefront of policy makers’ minds.

The Royal British Legion made it their number one priority in their most recent manifesto, demonstrating that the combined efforts of military charities has led to this significant announcement and that the Armed Forces Covenant can be used to drive policy change.

In the news

Read the media’s take on this important issue:

Want to know more?

For more information, contact AFF’s Employment, Training, Money & Allowances Specialist, Caroline Mayne, at etam@aff.org.uk  

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Latest rebasing news for BFG families

Around 10,000 of you are due to rebase to the UK from BFG in 2015.

For the latest Who? Where? When? - as well as accommodation details – read the latest update from the Army Basing Team on the Germany Latest News page.  

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Op valleys: your posting to Wales

If your family is posted to Wales, read on for the scoop on coming to Cymru.

Croeso I Gymru!

Op valleys - your posting to WalesWelcome to Wales, where the Welsh language (Cymraeg) is thriving. All government literature – road signs, letters and publications - is bilingual so you won’t struggle to get by but you may learn a few new words!

Although a part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right; the Welsh people voted in favour of devolution in Wales in 1997 and were given the power to make secondary laws by the Government of Wales Act 1998.

Housing in Wales

In some areas, such as Chepstow and St Athan, you’ll likely be allocated an SFA close to the barracks; however, if you’re posted to Haverfordwest quarters can be up to 12 miles away and it takes a while to travel back to England so plan your journey well!

Looking for work?

Like in many areas, job opportunities aren’t great. Don’t let this discourage you though – it could make or break your posting! If you’re keen to get back to work, visit www.armyandyou.co.uk/jobs, or try www.wales.com for a range of other job-search websites.

Education and childcare

The Welsh Government offers fewer free hours of childcare per week for three year olds – typically around 10 hours. Check your local authority website or the Family Information Service (FIS) to find out what is available in your area. 

The Welsh Primary and Secondary curriculum is structured broadly in line with England but the content is different. Welsh is taught in all schools up to the age of 16; some schools teaching predominantly in Welsh and some in English.

Unlike in England there are no free school meals for year R pupils; however, some schools do offer free breakfasts. 

Service Premium is not available, but schools can apply for the MOD education support fund – contact Lucy Scott, AFF Education and Childcare Specialist, for more details ec@aff.org.uk 

Secondary school children don’t have to take GCSE Welsh language but they must study it. GCSE students also sit the Welsh Baccalaureate which carries an extra 120 UCAS points for university entrance!

Got kids off to University? You could be eligible for help with hefty fees. Visit wales.gov.uk student financial support webpage for details.

Healthcare

Prescriptions are free and you’ll still have access to NHS dentistry; as in other areas it can take a while to get to the top of the waiting list.

For more about NHS Wales, including details of local dentists, visit www.wales.nhs.uk 

Embracing Welsh life

If you love beautiful scenery and the great outdoors, your weekends will always be busy!

The Wales Coastal Path follows the Welsh coastline, and there are three National Parks on your doorstep: Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and the Pembrokeshire Coast. See www.visitwales.com/explore/national-parks for inspiration.

Weather too wet for walking? National Museums in Wales are free! From the National Museum Cardiff to the Welsh Slate Museum, there’s plenty to see all year round.

Cardiff has an abundance of great shops to suit all purses, or for something quainter, St David’s – the smallest city in Britain – is full of galleries, restaurants and shops.

Want to know more? Check out the other pages on this website for essential info about Army life, or contact our Wales Co-ordinator at wales@aff.org.uk  

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No move on top grade house prices

AFF is relieved to hear that the top level of SFA costs will not change. So if you live in a grade one house the price of your accommodation will not increase. We were aware of price increases for many in the middle grades but we are pleased to hear that this is capped at all levels. For soldiers the price increase will not be more than 30 a month. However, we remain concerned that increases of costs are disproportionate to income increases. Even at 30 per month this will often equate to a 10% increase in housing cost against a 1% pay increase. For our families on low incomes every pound counts and when you are living on the margins what seems like a small increase makes an unwelcome difference. We have raised our concerns Min DPWV and with the Army Pay Review Board.

Nevertheless, we welcome the new categories being used to grade housing. It is a step forward to identify the needs of a modern family for example access to good quality broadband is more relevant than proximity to a phone box. We also welcome the efforts to tackle mould and hope this will be a criteria when grading a house.

For more information please review the Army’s information sheet.

Families if you have concerns please contact us at housing@aff.org.uk - we are here to help you. 

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Ebola Virus Disease Information and Q&As

With the media coverage of the continuing spread of Ebola virus disease and the announcement of 750 troops being deployed to Sierra Leone, we understand that families must have concerns. We are keeping up to date with the latest developments and have been assured that the chain of command will be releasing some specific information on this deployment for families in the very near future. As soon as we have any further information we will make it available to you.

AFF is fully aware that families have some very understandable concerns about their loved ones imminent deployment to Sierra Leone and the possible risk of them catching Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We have asked the chain of command to answer some questions so that you are as well informed as possible about this deployment. This information follows the current guidance and policy but in this International Public Health Emergency this is ever evolving. Click here for the Q&As

How is Ebola Virus Disease transmitted?

Ebola spreads through direct human-to-human contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people. It can also be transmitted through contact with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. Infection generally does not occur through routine, social contact (such as shaking hands) with individuals who do not have any symptoms. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms.

Most people are infected when they are giving care to infected people, either by directly touching the victim's body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood. People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 3 months after recovery from illness.

Who is at risk?

People who care for an infected person or who handle the blood or fluid samples of an infected person are at risk of becoming infected. Family members and healthcare workers are at greatest risk. Strict infection control procedures and wearing protective clothing minimises this risk. Simply washing hands frequently with soap and water (or using alcohol rubs when soap isn’t available) can destroy the virus. It is also important that people don't handle dead animals or their raw meat or eat bush meat, they avoid contact with people who have symptoms and make sure fruit and vegetables are washed and peeled before eating.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools).

For further information on Ebola virus disease and deployment to Sierra Leone

www.gov.uk/government/collections/ebola-virus-disease-clinical-management-and-guidance 
www.nathnac.org/pro/clinical_updates/ebola_westafrica_101014.htm 
www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ 
www.army.mod.uk/news/26592.aspx  

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New support service for carers in the Forces community

The Army Families Federation (AFF) is delighted that The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded a grant to deliver and evaluate a pilot online-support service to carers and families of people suffering from severe mental illness (SMI) in the Armed Forces community.

Helping you care for your loved one

The online service, facilitated by Wiltshire Mind and run by Healios in collaboration with AFF, will enable carers to easily access resources to improve their understanding of mental health difficulties and gain some of the skills needed to care for their loved ones. This service will be particularly important for those making the transition from military to civilian life.

AFF is very keen to support families which include someone suffering from mental health issues and were pleased to be involved with the bid for this project.

We recognise that caring for a loved one who has SMI can be incredibly difficult; you may feel isolated, helpless and struggle to know how best to provide, or get, support. Many people find it difficult, or are unable, to access appropriate support services.

Will you get involved?

If you are over 18 years, based in Wiltshire or the surrounding counties and currently looking after a family member with SMI, why not take part in the pilot of this new service?

SMI includes:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Find out more

For more information, contact Karen Ross at additonalneeds@aff.org.uk  

To pre-register for the project, contact Hannah Wiseman, at Healios, by telephone +44 (0) 3303 350 603 or email: info@healios.org  

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Looking after your SFA

CarillionAmey logoYour new housing service is coming soon and it’s really important that you’re aware of the upcoming changes.

A new contract to support Service Family Accommodation (SFA) across the UK is being introduced in November and December, and will bring changes to the way the service is delivered to you, the families.

A new streamlined system

CarillionAmey, on behalf of DIO, will deliver the service and act as a one-stop-shop for all housing issues including:

  • managing the applications systems and allocations (instead of the HASC)
  • move-in, move-out and pre-move out appointments
  • maintenance
  • improvement work
  • provision of SFA furniture

This should give a much more streamlined system for your family.

What to expect

There will be one national helpdesk and telephone number which will cover maintenance and allocations, as well as local customer service centres and a new website which will continue to be developed with the intention of allowing you to report maintenance issues online (this will come in at a later date).

Details will follow in leaflets, booklets, online and through your soldier’s chain of command – some of which will come from CarillionAmey directly.

AFF will continue to update you of all changes so that you know what to expect.

Putting you in control

Customers will also be expected to take a greater role in the process, giving you the power to sign off work such as agreeing that CarillionAmey is meeting the required standards at Move In, or that repair work has been completed; you will be given guidance to help you do this.

It is VERY important that you familiarise yourself with your responsibilities as soon as possible - AFF will publicise more detail about this as soon as we can.

When will the new process begin?

The changes will take effect on 1 November in Scotland and Northern Ireland for maintenance/repairs and also for UK wide housing allocations; maintenance/repairs in England and Wales and the provision of SFA furniture will go live on 1 December.

Want to know more?

We know that you will have questions so please look out for further information in the coming months about how the service will be delivered, how to continue to access services and what your responsibilities will be to help the contract function effectively.

For more information about SFA, contact AFF Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, on housing@aff.org.uk

Click here for the information leaflet.

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Army families give AFF the big picture

Results of Big survey are inThe Army Families Federation (AFF) recently conducted our annual Big Survey – collating the facts about the Army lifestyle as experienced by Army families.

This year the survey looked at the ‘big picture’ – covering all aspects of Army life; over 2,600 people took part from around the world.

What did we discover?
With the drawdown from Germany already underway, a number of concerns were raised – not surprisingly housing and schools were the most prevalent; however, spouse employment was also highlighted as a worry.

Although spouse employment is hard for the military to plan for, it must be recognised as a key factor in retention; AFF has been working to promote this.

AFF’s Germany branch is hosting a number of roadshows this autumn for families in BFG going through this period of transition to ask their questions and allay their worries.

Money talk
With the rise in cost of living, and prolonged Army pay freezes, 46% of families are worse off than they were two years ago.

Once again, spouse employment was perceived to be one of the core reasons for this with 64% of families experiencing financial issues without a second income; the future Army can’t be shaped on a single income.

The main factor affecting the spouse’s ability to secure employment was their soldier’s lengthy or unpredictable working hours (75%), but frequent moves (66%) and their soldier being away so much (65%) also played a part.

Going it alone
72% of those in their own home didn’t feel they received adequate welfare support from the Army. This must be rectified if the Army is to positively promote ‘living in your own home’ as part of the New Employment Model (NEM) - 47% of families are considering purchasing a home in the next 3 years.

AFF recently commissioned a report on geographically dispersed families, looking at both the benefits and drawbacks of Army families choosing to live in their own home. When the report is finalised AFF will use the information to inform policy making.

AFF comment
The needs of the Army must be balanced against a sustainable family unit.

Provision of heavily subsidised housing is still an essential part of the remuneration package for many; a significant proportion cannot afford to live in their own home.

AFF continues to promote the importance of spouse employment and the positive effects it can have on the various aspects of the Army family lifestyle whether soldiers are Regular, Reserve or living in their own home.

arrowClick here to download the results brief.

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Headline findings from the NEM Consultation

The New Employment Model (NEM) is the Ministry of Defence’s most thorough review of Service personnel terms and conditions of service (career structures, pay, accommodation, training, etc.) in a generation. Over the last six months, they have consulted with Service personnel and tackled issues such as overseas postings, supporting partner employment and buying your own home. Over 12,000 Service personnel participated in the consultation. Click here to find out the results. 

AFF is currently reviewing the content of this report and will report back.

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Good news for Service voters

Ballot envelopeIs your family currently posted overseas? 

Did you know, you can register as a Service voter for five years at a fixed address in the UK even if you move around; this may be particularly useful if you are based overseas or think you may be posted overseas in the next few years.

Why not post your vote?

In the past, the short period of time given to send and receive voting paperwork has meant that postal votes were not always received in time to be counted.

Now, due to a Parliamentary Bill passed earlier this year, it is easier for Service personnel and families living overseas to vote in elections.

Ballot papers will be sent out earlier to postal voters before the poll closes; this means you will have more time to ensure your vote is counted.

Mixed message

The MOD is currently advising Service personnel and families posted overseas/on operations to appoint a proxy to remove any doubt about whether there is enough time to receive and return their postal ballot before the polls close; this is until it is clear how much earlier the ballot papers are actually being dispatched.

If you are currently posted overseas then find out about becoming a Service voter at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/register_to_vote/armed_forces

AFF View:

The extra time for Service voters will certainly help; however, AFF believes that a move away from proxy voting is preferable as many personnel do not have someone who they can rely on to vote for them. AFF has received evidence of several Service personnel who have discovered that, after years of overseas posting, their proxy has voted in the opposite manner to their request.

We welcome this change but remain concerned that proxy voting does not offer a good solution.

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Struggling to get help to buy?

AFF has had a number of queries from Army families regarding mortgage lenders not being signed up to the Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme.

As a result of your feedback, we have approached the MOD to ask if they are able to confirm which lenders are on board.

Unfortunately the MOD is unable to do this as they understandably can’t be seen to be endorsing specific companies; however, they have guaranteed that most major high street lenders are on board.

AFF InvestigatesAFF investigates
Without a list from the MOD, AFF is contacting numerous mortgage lenders on your behalf with the aim of providing you with a list of participating companies …. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s compiled.

Don’t give up 
With this in mind, we encourage families (who are eligible for the scheme and also for a mortgage) to keep pushing major lenders as it may just be that staff in your local branch might not be aware of the scheme.

If you encounter resistance from the branch, urge them to contact their central office as, according to the MOD, they should be aware of the scheme.

Let us know
If you come across a lender who says they are unaware of the FHTB scheme then please let AFF know, or you can email the FHTB team direct at perstrg-NEM-Mailbox@mod.uk

With your feedback and experiences, the MOD can then work with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to identify why the scheme is not being taken up.

For more information about the FHTB scheme, please visit www.gov.uk/forces-help-to-buy  

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New Employment Model Myth Buster

The current employment model dates back to the 1970s. Some aspects are still very good and need to be protected however, other aspects have failed to keep pace with the way in which our people live their lives in the 21st Century. The New Employment Model (NEM) will be designed to ensure a package of terms and conditions that are affordable, agile and attractive, keeping what works but getting rid of the more outdated aspects of the old package.

On a financial front, significantly discounted accommodation will remain a core part of the ‘offer’ to Service personnel and the Armed Forces Pension Scheme 15 will still be one of the best available anywhere. Our high standard of training and education, and the quality of our welfare support will also be retained.However, to keep pace with the aspirations of the young people we need to recruit in the future we also need to examine the impact of Service life on families and the ability for spouses and partners to pursue their own careers. 

In June the department launched a programme of consultation and engagement with Service personnel which will run until October. Feedback from the consultation will be used to shape the detailed policy development of the various components of the NEM. So far there has been a fantastic volume of responses to the online survey already and some extremely helpful feedback has been gathered during focus groups and interviews. But there has also been a number of commonly repeated misconceptions about some of the changes or perceived problems that the NEM will bring about and so this week we aim to address some of those myths.

Click here to download the Myths and comments.

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