Latest News & Information
On this page:
06 Dec - Christmas Message from the Chief of the General Staff (CGS)
26 Nov - BFBS Radio Launches ‘Kidsmas Carol’ Competition
26 Nov - Supporting the Unsung Hero Launch
20 Nov - Service Premium
18 Nov - £3m Support Fund for State Schools bidding round is now open
18 Nov - Access to school places in advance of move
28 Oct - Changes to LOA rates in Germany
21 Oct - Update on DIO customer satisfaction survey
21 Oct - Employment Survey - Thank you for your views
04 Oct - Free employment advice for Service families
20 Sept - New Employment Model Myth Buster
12 Sept - FAMCAS Briefing
12 Sept - Voting: Good News!
29 Jul - A new study is looking at domestic abuse in the military
General Sir Peter Wall has released his Christmas message. This year he focuses on the families that support our soldiers. Click here to read the message.Back to top
To enter, you’ll need to record audio or a video of children, or a single child, singing a Christmassy song – and it doesn’t have to be a carol.
Whether it’s your school choir’s noel chorus, or a personal yuletide greeting, they want to hear heaps of seasonal spirit in your voices.
If you have any problems sending your entry, email comp@bfbs for help you.
Once your entry is online at www.bfbs.com/carol you can then get everyone you know to vote for you.
The winning entry will be the performance with the most online votes at midnight UK time on Tuesday 10th December, and will be announced on Friday 13th December on BFBS.
The winner will receive a gorgeous crystal star trophy and will be interviewed on BFBS radio worldwide and have their winning entry played live on air.
By submitting your entry to this BFBS competition, you confirm that all necessary permission for Internet publication and radio broadcast has been granted.
PHOTO: A crystal star trophy will be awarded to the winner of the BFBS Kidsmas Carol Competition.Back to top
The Armed Forces Dependants’ Business Start-up Course – “Supporting the Unsung Hero” was launched yesterday. This amazing, fully funded, course, developed by the University of Wolverhampton, would be invaluable for spouses who are looking to start their own business. For more information please click here.Back to top
How many of us know what the Service Premium is? Do the schools our children attend receive this extra money and do we know how they spend it? At AFF we receive a lot of questions about the Service Premium and we are conscious that many of us don’t really know how this money is, or could be, spent to benefit our children. We also don’t know who to ask about it and what we can ask from our schools. Please click here for more info.
What do you need to do?
Families should let their school know that they are a Service family so that this can be noted on the January 2014 school census and enable the school to claim the Service Premium. This needs t <noframes>Your browser doesn't support frames.</noframes> o be done before the 16th January 2014.
What is AFF doing to help you?
At AFF we are very keen to ensure your Service Premium award is being spent to benefit your child. We want to make schools more accountable for how they manage this money. In view of this, last year we created an award to highlight best practice in schools on spending the premium. This successful award will run again in 2014. If you would like to find out more about last years’ winners and examples of the amazing things that were done in schools, please see the article on pages 6 & 7 in the Army&You Autumn.
For further information and comments please contact AFF Education and Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott at firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to top
The £3m Support Fund for State Schools bidding round is now open. This fund is available for schools across the whole of the UK and we have the following statement from the Directorate of Children and Young People (DCYP).
bids from State Schools, Free Schools, Academies and Local Authorities (on
behalf of their schools), to fund projects designed to help schools mitigate
the effects of exceptional mobility and/or deployment of the Armed Forces
community which they support.
Applications which can provide clear evidence of having engaged with their local AF community and collaborative bids from schools where there may be only a small number of Service children will be particularly welcomed; as will those which are able to include details of exceptional mobility and deployment due to the changing footprint of AF units across the UK.
date for applications is 19 Dec 13.
Service parents who have a child attending a State School, Free School or Academy in the UK are encouraged to engage with their child’s head-teacher to ensure they are aware of this fund. More information is available by clicking here.
AFF has been contacted by families highlighting the issues of accessing school places in advance of moving on posting. This was one of the questions asked of the Minister at our Germany 2013 conference. This affects families moving to Local Authorities in England from anywhere in the world. AFF believes that this issue disadvantages Army families and that there is no option for forward planning. This may have a detrimental effect on their children’s education and causes unnecessary stress for all concerned. If you would like to find out more, click here to download the AFF Brief.Back to top
There are going to be changes to daily rates of LOA in Germany. In summary single & unaccompanied personnel will see a decrease to their daily rate and accompanied personnel will see an increase in their daily rate. Please read the explanation below as to why and how these changes will be made.
WHAT IS LOA?
The aim of Living Overseas Allowance (LOA) is to contribute towards any additional cost of day to day living when Service personnel are required to life and work overseas. The amount of LOA you receive is determined by comparing a range of goods and services in the UK to that of the country in which you are living, in our case this is Germany. Rates are assessed by costing the average lifestyles of both single and married personnel. The range of goods will be different for a single serving individual to those of a married individual and so the rate of LOA will differ.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
The LOA rates are reviewed regularly and the cost of living in Germany was reviewed in June of this year. The findings have meant the LOA rates will change. This will result in an increase of 12-14% for accompanied personnel however, single/unaccompanied personnel will see their LOA rate reduced by 22%.
In a nutshell the rate is driven by three factors; the overall decrease in the cost of living in Germany, car costs and the introduction of set rate telecoms packages into the LOA calculation.
WHEN WILL THIS COME INTO ACTION?
For those accompanied personnel the increase will commence from 1 November 2013. Those individuals who are single/unaccompanied will be given until 1 April 2014 to adjust their budgeting before they will see a reduction in rates.
For further details and more information please review the attached PDF released by BFG.Back to top
The initial results of the DIO customer satisfaction survey are now in and AFF is delighted to hear that there has been a good response from families – this is a fantastic way for DIO to hear how families really feel about the services they provide.
Results from the first 3 months (about 600 families)
- Overall, 74% of customers are satisfied, and 14% dissatisfied, with the service provided by DIO Service Delivery Accommodation and its contractors.
- 83% of customers are satisfied, and 11% dissatisfied, with the rules that govern entitlement to SFA.
- 78% of customers express satisfaction with the overall quality of their home, while 15% express dissatisfaction.
- 87% of customers are satisfied, and 8% dissatisfied, with the SFA estate as place to live. Notably, this is the highest level of satisfaction and lowest level of dissatisfaction expressed for all of the eleven aspects rated in this survey.
- 76% of customers are satisfied, and 15% dissatisfied, with the upkeep of communal areas.
- 86% of customers are satisfied, and 10% dissatisfied, with the value for money that daily occupancy charges provide.
- 77% of customers are satisfied, and 18% dissatisfied, with the arrangements for allocating SFA
- 80% of customers are satisfied, and 14% dissatisfied, with the way the ‘Move In’ is dealt with
- 62% of customers are satisfied, and 24% dissatisfied, with the way the contractor deals with repairs and maintenance issues. Notably, this is the highest level of dissatisfaction expressed for all of the eleven aspects rated in this survey.
- 84% of customers are satisfied, and 12% dissatisfied, with the way the ‘Move Out’ is dealt with.
- Only 57% of customers are satisfied, and 21% dissatisfied, that DIO Service Delivery Accommodation listens to views and acts upon them. Notably, this is the lowest level of satisfaction expressed for all of the eleven aspects rated in this survey.
The two interesting results so far are:
- The satisfaction rate for the way the contractor e.g. MHS deals with repairs etc. is much lower than MHS’ own published customer satisfaction rates. DIO and MHS will be looking into why there is a discrepancy between figures.
- The majority of families felt that DIO doesn’t listen to their views or act upon them. This survey is the start of DIO doing just that and these results enable DIO to delve deeper into issues to establish the root cause of them. The aim is to deliver an improved service.
AFF will continue to monitor the results of the survey and will continue to work with DIO to ensure that families’ views are listened to and acted on. Please continue to answer the questions as honestly and as accurately as you can if you are contacted.Back to top
The MOD’s Partner Employment Project was launched in April 2013 to look at the barriers to spouse and partner employment and to develop options papers to overcoming these barriers. AFF has been providing evidence, case studies and support to the Project. The two year project will look at a number of employment factors including:
- Partner training and education, together with placement and career development services
- Access to national employment support, including interaction with national childcare initiatives
- Employment support to partners during the Service person’s transition.
The aim of the project is to improve the financial situation of families through a second income which will allow more families to increase their standards of living. Importantly, it will enable more families to realistically look at buying their own homes.
AFF is pleased to provide an update from the PEP team. This update is in response to the survey many of you completed over the summer on spouse underemployment and overseas employment. Click here for the update.Back to top
If you are looking at restarting your career or going out to work for the first time then these employability workshops could be perfect for you. This RBLI programme, delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, is a vocational assessment and employability course that gives you the tools to enable you to get the job you want, you are going to succeed in and enjoy.
This programme will be run nationally and for the dates and locations of the first courses, please click here.
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.
The Families Continuous Attitudes Survey (FAMCAS) is undertaken by the MOD and seeks the views of Armed Forces families on a range of issues including Service life, education and employment. AFF has produced a briefing on the responses from Army families, which highlights areas raised by the survey, such as spouse employment, recognition and the availability of childcare. Click here to download the briefing.
A Parliamentary Bill has been passed which will make it easier for Service personnel and families living overseas to vote in elections. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 extends the timetable for UK Parliamentary elections from 17 working days to 25 working days. As part of this extension, it will be possible for ballot papers to be sent out earlier to postal voters before the poll closes, rather than the current 11 days. This will allow more time for voters to return their choice, ensuring that their vote is counted. Historically, the short period of time allowed to send and receive voting paperwork has meant that votes from those living overseas were not always received in time to be counted. The Government is planning to commence the provisions in time for the scheduled elections in 2014 (which includes the 2014 European Parliamentary elections).
News that the electoral voting window has been extended to ensure that families and Service personnel living overseas will now be able to get their postal vote back to the ballot box in time is very welcome. AFF began working on this issue in 2009 with much encouragement from Devina Worsely, whose commitment to effecting this change must be noted in achieving our aim of re-enfranchising those on overseas assignments across the world.
Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive said:
AFF was disappointed when the parliamentary process left insufficient time to affect this change for the 2010 General Election so I am very pleased that this change has occurred in time for the next General Elections and encourage everybody to check now that they are registered to vote. Register at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
One of the aims of the study is to improve support to those suffering domestic abuse. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, are no longer in the abusive situation, and would consent to taking part in an interview, Harriet Gray from the London School of Economic (email@example.com) would like to hear from you. Harriet is also looking for support workers in this area, for example AWS workers, to take part in the study. All interviews will be confidential, reporting will be completely anonymous, and you can choose to withdraw from the study at any time. AFF is aware that this is a particularly sensitive subject but one which needs to be talked about more. If you are currently suffering domestic abuse, speak to the Army Welfare Team, call the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or call AFF for advice on organisations which can help.