Kirsten Oswald – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Defence

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Kirsten Oswald on 2016-06-08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the factors underlying decisions to leave the armed forces early; and what he is doing to address the most significant factors behind such decisions.

Mark Lancaster

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) continually monitors the reasons for voluntary outflow of Service personnel through methods such as the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS). We recognise that the impact of Service on family and personal life remains the most important factor influencing an intention to leave. The New Employment Model Programme (NEM) is at the centre of activity being developed to address the underlying reasons individuals leave the Armed Forces and to help mitigate the impact of Service life on the family. The NEM was established to review the Terms and Conditions of Service to deliver a more modernised offer that allows personnel and their families more choice and reduce the impact of Service life on individuals and their families whilst still meeting the Services’ needs.

The NEM has already introduced a number of changes to address personnel concerns about better opportunities outside the Service, including a set of Career Management Principles and Practices designed to support greater consistency in how careers are managed and realistic lifestyle choice based on employment, stability and location factors. This will enable personnel to access employment readiness training for spouses/civil partners through the new Career Transition Partnership contract; pilots are now running in the Royal Air Force and Joint Forces command. The Department has also secured LIBOR funding to support a business start-up programme designed specifically for Armed Forces families and a course to deliver vocational assessment and employability training for Service spouses. We are also working with financial services providers to tailor their products for the Armed Forces community including banking, insurance and credit history and have also introduced loans for deposits for Service personnel to either buy their own home or for a rental deposit.

At the beginning of the year, the MOD published its first UK Armed Forces Families’ Strategy. The Strategy recognises that to recruit and retain capable and talented Service personnel that Defence must do more to listen, talk to and empower Service families. The Strategy is based on the principles of supporting fairness in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. It aims to provide greater choice where possible, empowering families by providing information and access to support when they need it, and engendering resilience in families, supporting self-determination and independence preparing families for their eventual transition from Service life.