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FEDERATION NEWS


THE FREEZE ON PAY CONTINUES Te AFPRB now know RAF families are feeling the cold?


Remuneration continues to be a subject of considerable interest to those who engage with us. Using the responses to our surveys the RAF FF have compiled a comprehensive report and presented it to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. Here we give a flavour of the evidence provided on your behalf – the full report is on the RAF FF website.


T


he Federation’s 2011 ‘RAF Way of Life’ survey was specifically designed to inform the AFPRB. Questions


covered: satisfaction with pay and allowances; causes and extent of debt; work/life balance; quality of life in the RAF and questions on pensions.


Our view of family morale is that people feel bruised and battered by a series of bad news announcements and that many don‘t feel valued by either the Service or the Government. On top of the uncertainty of base closures and fleet reductions, many thousands of families have lived under the shadow of impending redundancy, most are half-way through the two-year pay freeze and many are seeing large cuts to allowances.


The significant restructuring of the Service takes place against a backdrop of wider societal misery. The launch of the Armed Forces Covenant in June did little to assuage these feelings with many both sceptical and cynical as to the value of the Covenant.


Pay and Pensions Life As anticipated, voters told us that the Government- imposed two-year pay freeze has had a definite negative impact upon their family income. Combined with increases in SFA charges, utility bills, food prices, petrol and the general cost of living, many felt that they had in fact taken a pay cut. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 36% thought the Armed Forces should take their share of public sector pay restraint.


Concerns about pensions are high, with over 80% of voters confirming its value as a retention factor and that any changes would provide them with the impetus needed to leave the Service.


Impact of Service life on the RAF family We continue to receive evidence


www.raf-ff.org.uk


from families who are spending considerable time apart because of military commitments. This has a major impact on the family at home and there are a growing number of families who opt to live apart during the week. Primarily this is to ensure family stability but this type of separation is also having a negative impact on family life and relationships.


We asked non-serving audiences to tell us what they enjoyed about RAF life. Whilst the top vote was ‘secure employment for my partner’, the next highest was ‘I don’t enjoy RAF life’, which mirrors the serving family members’ responses, a significant shift from last year’s survey.


When asked whether families would consider a permanent overseas assignment few were motivated to apply. Many currently overseas complained bitterly about the changes to Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and loss of School Children’s/University students’ visits. Many feeling the MoD had ‘moved the goalposts’ while they were mid-tour and some felt they could no longer afford to stay in an accompanied overseas post.


Impact of the SDSR Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of voters told us the SDSR has had a negative impact on their motivation to stay in the RAF and that the benefits of being part of the Armed Forces are being eroded.


Financial Concerns The Federation received much feedback from families who stated they will face financial hardship as a result of the Allowances Review. Home to Duty attracted particular criticism, with those in SFA away from their duty station, feeling they are being discriminated against. It is of concern that 82% of voters told us that they worry about money and that 27% owe more than £10,000 (in addition to any mortgage).


Housing We noted an increase in issues relating to allocation policies and availability of appropriately sized accommodation. Extended families continue to feature, with elderly parents, children from previous relationships and older children returning to the nest creating pressure on the families for whom extra bedrooms are not an option. We were bitterly disappointed to be advised in July that there would be a pause in the funding for years 3-5 of the planned SFA upgrade programme. We have also raised concerns over increasing evidence of shortages of accommodation.


Childcare Parents are constantly battling to access suitable, affordable childcare and many face problems finding appropriate start/finish times. Some parents are paying more than £250 per week for childcare. Anecdotal evidence suggests many families have now decided that the second parent cannot afford to go out to work.


Employment and Training Opportunities for Service family members Frequent disruption to the career paths of non-serving family members has a direct impact on their ability to find and retain meaningful employment. There is also the view that many employers remain prejudiced against Service partners.


Reserves A quarter of Reservist respondents said they had spent more than six months on deployments and have to deal with the impact of separation. It is also clear that some are finding it difficult to get the support from their employers.


Concluding Thoughts The ability of the AFPRB to influence future pay awards is highly valued by the families we represent. We note and welcome the Government’s commitment to an independent Pay Review Body as part of the Armed Forces Covenant. 


Envoy Winter 2011 23


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