FEATURES “The MOD has committed that FAMwill continue to support subsidised housing

acause of particular concern to Service Families when parents are posted from one region to another.The RAF is very fortunate to have the support of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund in providing high quality facilities in the vast majority of locations to meet needs; however, the variation in costs between different parts of the country continue to present challenges. Asignificant number of station nurseries are operated in partnership with anational charity Action for Children, the same charity that delivers Airplay.Stations work closely with providers to monitor costs and to ensure that opening times meet the needs of parents. Following extensive feedback from our Families Federations, theMODDirectorate for Children and Young People are currently working on anMODChildcare Policy and are examining anumber of issues, including options to reduce price differentials between areas; the RAF have maintained asignificant involvement in this work. We continue to explore ways in which we can support families with children of all ages, in their early years and through schooling and holiday support.

Many families have told us that they feel worse off because of all the changes in the last few years. Are you concerned that if families’ accommodation is no longer part of the package under the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), the offer may diminish further?

Ithink that the opposite is true! While FAMhas some way to go, and my team is working tirelessly to influence it’s development, FAMaims not to remove accommodation from the ‘package’ but presents acrucial opportunity to address the inequalities in the current system, redefine who we support (FAM’s intent is to embrace the ‘21st century family, thereby supporting more of our people) and enable greater choice and flexibility based on our people’s aspirations at different times in their career and personal lives. FAMintends also to provide financial support for personnel to purchase ahouse if family stability is the priority,while also supporting those who we need to be mobile. The MOD has committed that FAMwill continue to support subsidised housing; the total amount of subsidy allocated to accommodation won’t change -but how

we deliver accommodation in different locations will change -recognising that there will always be aneed for some SFA.

One of the concerns about FAMisthe availability of rental accommodation near to sought after schools and the availability of places within those schools. What is the RAF doing to ensure our families still have access to the schools of their choice?

We know that schooling is asignificant issue for our people. As aService, we are proud that our average return of service across the ranks is 19 years and as such schooling has been one of my top issues throughout the development of FAMand indeed, support for families with schooling and childcare needs is one of the Chief of the Airs Staff’s Guiding Principles for FAM. With afamily of my own, Itotally understand that the schools admission process is complex and emotive. With around 50% of schools in local authorities now academies (who operate their own admission policies under their own authority) and schools, regardless of the positive strides made by the Armed Forces Covenant, bound by oversubscription criteria, the need to understand this landscape has never been more critical. Under the FAMproject, the RAF continues to be the key voice on schooling in consultations with the Dept for Education and MOD Directorate of Children and Young People. Ihave also asked my team to think career management may need to adapt.

There is ageneral concern that in the future, families could be spread over awider geographical area. How is the

RAF going to ensure that families have a welfare team to support them when they need it?

Iampleased that RAF Community Support is already considering how to support dispersed families. RAF HIVE are looking at a new model of information provision, which will further exploit online communication methods such as websites and social media. Similarly,the enhancements to the SSAFA telephone referral system under the new contract is afirst step in ensuring that our dispersed families can stay connected to the specialist welfare support that is currently delivered at our Units.Work also continues with the Armed Forces Covenant Team in ensuring that the local communities play their part to ensure that our families are not disadvantaged as result of their military service. By forging relationships with local authorities and utilising our Covenant Champions, in tandem with the work of the RAF Families Federation Covenant Managers, we are looking to exploit those relationships to ensure afair provision for families, which could extend to welfare support provided in the community.Itis essential that we offer our Service families opportunities to integrate with society by offering the chance of stability and undisrupted education.

The RAF Families Federation plays an extremely important role in our welfare system and are our eyes and ears on the ground, Icannot stress enough the importance of our Service personnel to get in touch with them if they have any problems. Family lives are complexand changeable and it is my intent to ensure that across the ‘people space’ we are flexible, open, and remain engaged.

Autumn 2017 Envoy 9

Crown Copyright 2017.

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