Is the standard of married quarters and their maintenance acceptable?
The provision of good quality living accommodation for Service personnel and their families remains a priority for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Through its contractor, CarillionAmey, the MOD manages around 50,000 properties in the United Kingdom, as well as undertaking improvements, providing a comprehensive maintenance service; managing the allocation of properties; and conducting move in and move out appointments.
CarillionAmey provides the Defence housing service on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The contract with CarillionAmey came into effect on 1 November 2014 for Scotland and Northern Ireland and UK wide allocations; and on 1 December 2014 in England and Wales and for SFA furniture. This comprehensive service is free to occupants, who generally have little responsibility for the maintenance of their SFA. However, customers are responsible for looking after their property and protecting it from damage.
Overall, 57% of customers are satisfied, and 28% dissatisfied, with the service provided by DIO Accommodation and its contractors. The level of satisfaction in Q2 2016/17 (54%) is lower than the previous quarter (58%), similar to q4 2014/15, but substantially lower than in Q3 2014/15 (65%).
66% of customers express satisfaction with the overall quality of their home, whilst 24% express dissatisfaction. Satisfaction expressed in this quarter (61%) is slightly lower than the previous quarter (67%).
42% of customers are satisfied, and 45% dissatisfied, with the way the contractor deals with repairs and maintenance issues. This question drew one of the lowest levels of satisfaction, and highest levels of dissatisfaction throughout the survey. The overall satisfaction level expressed in this quarter (42%), is higher compared to Q1 2016/17 (39%) and consistent with Q4 of 2015/16 (43%).
How is the Army prepared for terrorist attacks in the UK?
Since the attacks in Paris in 2015 the Army contributes to a force of up to 10,000 military personnel that can support the police at their request in the event of a major terrorist incident(s). Personnel are suitably trained and are on an appropriate notice period for these tasks. Other areas of expertise in which the military supports the civil authorities include bomb disposal, special forces and intelligence support. This does not affect core Army outputs.
Why is the Army always recruiting?
By its nature the Army is a pyramid organisation and, as such, it depends completely on high-quality young people wanting to join for rewarding and exciting careers.
Roughly 10,000 personnel leave the Army each year, either through by naturally reaching the end of their service and retiring or by taking the option the leave earlier than this.
The Army must continually recruit in order to replace these service leavers and ensure that we have sufficient personnel in training to provide manpower to the Field Army.
How does the Army support serving soldiers and veterans that develop mental health issues?
Assessment and care-management within the Armed Forces for personnel experiencing mental health (MH) problems is available at three levels:
• In Primary Health Care, by the patient’s own Medical Officer.
• In the community through specialists in Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH). DCMH are specialised psychiatric services based on community mental health teams, located with primary care services.
• In hospitals, either the NHS or the contracted In-Patient Service Provider.
• All soldiers on operations are given information about help available to them and our TRiM training allows people to identify others within their Unit who need additional help.
• A structured MH assessment is conducted for all SP that leave, with ongoing access to DCMH provided up to 6 months.
• Veterans' healthcare is provided by the NHS, with priority treatment for Service-related conditions. There are 10 dedicated Veteran’s MH Teams across the UK.
General Wellbeing and MH LTT:
The Government is absolutely committed to the well being of our Armed Forces and provides a wide range of support both during and after service.
The Veterans Welfare Service exists to enhance the quality of life for veterans and helps them access the services they need, while a 24-hour helpline is available for veterans seeking advice on mental health issues.
A total of £2.2m of Libor fines was given to Combat Stress for its Community Outreach and to complete the second phase of the 24-Hour Mental Health Helpline. This is in addition to the £775,000 of Libor funds to help provide the helpline for veterans, £332,855 awarded to Big White Wall and £2.7m for the Help for Heroes ‘Hidden Wounds’ service.
Mental Health Statistics
Assessments for MH at specialist MoD services have risen from 1.8% of UKAF pers in 2007/08, to 3.2% in 2015/16. It is unclear what proportion is due to successful anti-stigma campaigns, changes in detection and referral rates and a true rise in MH disorders. This is lower than the 3.5% within the UK gen pop (UKGP). Comparisons with UKGP are hard; the nature of the role UKAF pers perform means a patient’s MO may refer earlier specialised MH services compared to UKGP. UKGP statistics also cover services such as Learning and Autism not directly relevant to AF. Lower rates seen among UKAF personnel accessing MH services compared to the UKGP may be due to the structure within the military; unit cohesion plays a vital role in maintaining good MH as well as helping to spot early signs of mental ill-health. Selection of fit people into the AF may help to prevent those with more serious MH disorders joining. AF pers who have MH which prevents continued service may be medically discharged, thus more severe cases of MH requiring in-patient admission move to UKGP. There was a rising trend in UKAF pers seen at MoD MH services since 2007, with a 8% increase in the latest year. This may be due to successful anti-stigma campaigns resulting in increased awareness and greater detection and referrals. The number of pers admitted to a MoD in-patient provider remains low at 0.2% of all pers in 2015/16.
• Adjustment Disorders were the most prevalent MH disorder among AF personnel in 2015/16 accounting for around 35% of all MH disorders.
• Mood disorders (e.g. depression) accounted for 31% of all mental disorders in 2015/16.
• Neurotic disorders (e.g. anxiety, OCD) accounted for 25% of all mental disorders in 2015/16.
• PTSD accounted for 6% of MH disorders among AF personnel in 2015/16.
How are service leavers supported? What education and training are they entitled to? How can we engage with the Forces to employ them?
All personnel leaving the Armed Forces (c.20,000 in 2016) are entitled to resettlement provision to help them transition into civilian life. Most Service Leavers use these opportunities and 80% of those who look for work using the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) are in sustainable full-time employment within 6 months of leaving.
CTP (www.ctp.org.uk) is the single source for all official Armed Forces resettlement services, providing advice, briefings, training and job finding services for Service Leavers, with specialised support for Wounded Injured and Sick personnel through the Recovery Careers Services, which are linked to the CTP.
Resettlement is provided in partnership with Right Management Ltd through the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) contract.
The Lord Ashcroft Transition Review published in February 2014 contained 43 recommendations. 31 are already in effect either in full or in part, or being similarly developed. The Ashcroft report highlighted the amount of support available concluding that the majority of Service Leavers were no more likely to suffer PTSD, become homeless, commit suicide or go to prison than the rest of the population. It confirmed that the media and public perception that the majority of veterans tend to have some kind of physical, emotional or mental health problem as a result of their service is not true and potentially damaging. A follow-up report will be published in May 2015.
80% of personnel who left the Armed Forces in 2015/16 were in full-time employment within 6 months of leaving:
The CTP helped 80% of Service Leavers to find sustainable employment within six months of leaving the Armed Forces in 15/16, thanks to benefits available such as training grants, allowances, travel warrants, resettlement leave, transition workshops, one-to-one career guidance support, subsidised vocational training support, housing advice, financial briefs and job finding support. A new contract to provide CTP services and support was implemented on 1 October 2015. More than 200,000 service leavers have been helped by the CTP since 1998.
Local Bde HQ should pass all contacts to CTP.
Why do you not have more women employed in the Army? What are you doing to recruit more?
The Army recognises and values difference and the short answer is that we do not have enough women in the Army and we are doing what we can do to improve this. We have set a target of 15% of the Army (all ranks) being female by 2020, a 50% increase from where we area now. We will achieve this by introducing a more intelligent career management system, that will particularly support women's development in their careers, as well as looking at more flexible arrangements between Regular and Reserve employment. The women in this country have incredible talent that is applicable across the spectrum of disciplines and trades that we have in the Army and we need to maximise their talent to deliver a far better organisation. Finally, we want our women (and ethnic minority groups) to develop in our organisation without fear from bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment, and we have recently reiterated our zero tolerance to bullying and harassment, as enshrined in our new Army Leadership Code.
We currently we have 9% women (12% officers, 8% other ranks). In June 2016 front line combat roles were opened up to women for the first time. This will be phased in over the next 2 years, starting with RAC roles in late 2016 and followed by the Infantry in 2017.
It is worth noting that until 2016 women were unable to serve in roughly 40% of the Army. If this 40% is disregarded and the remaining 60% is focused on the Army is in fact 19% female when considering only the jobs that women could actually fill.
9% women (UKAF: 10.2%, RN/RM: 9.3%, RAF: 14%, Army Reserve: 12.9%). Increase of 0.4% since April 2012.
Why do you not have more ethnic minorities employed in the Army? What are you doing to recruit more?
The Army recognises and values difference. This is not just about race, but about gender, nationality, religion and sexual orientation. We seek to recruit and retain the talented people from all walks of life. We are therefore actively recruiting from every corner of the UK, and to answer the specific question, we would like to have more representatives from ethnic groups. We also have the following:
- D&I policy branch in Army HQ
- BAME recruiting drive
- D&I Champion
- Army LBGT forum
- World Faith Chaplains
- Mandatory E&D training
- Community engagement projects
10.3% BAME (UKAF: 7%, RN/RM: 3.5%, RAF: 2.2%, Army Reserve: 5.6%). Of which (tri-service) 47.6% UK, 52.4% non-UK (Reserve: 78.4% UK, 21.6% non-UK)
2.6% of officers and 8% ORs (tri-service).
Christian: 64,015 / 76%, No religion (inc. Agnostic & Atheist): 17,080 / 20%, Hindu: 1,035 / 0.1%, Buddhist: 655 / 0.07%, Muslim: 435 / 0.05%, Sikh: 140 / 0.01%, Other: 0.03%.
Can you tell us more about the Armed Forces Covenant and the Covenant Fund?
To foster greater links between the Armed Forces and society the MoD created the Armed Forces Covenant. This is a voluntary pledge from businesses and charities who wish to demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces community. The Covenant’s core commitment is the upholding of two key principles:
First, that no member of the Armed Forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen.
Second, that in some circumstances, special treatment may actually be appropriate, especially for the injured or bereaved.
The MoD has developed an Employer Recognition scheme for employers who support the Covenant. At the Bronze level, organisations simply declare themselves as being supportive of Defence.
Organisations can then be nominated for higher awards and recognition at a regional and national level by demonstrating continued support and making stronger commitments.
The Gold Awards are presented annually; in 2015 they were held at Downing Street with the Prime Minister and in 2016 at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with HRH the Duke of Cambridge.
An element of the Covenant is Armed Forces Covenant Fund. This is a source of funding that is available to projects that promote links between the service community and civil society. Examples are sports facilities, community integration projects and services that provide support to service families and veterans. This funding can be bid for through the Covenant representative in the Regional Point of Command HQ.
Is enough being spent on defence, including on the Army?
The structural work for Army 2020 plan (A2020) has now been largely completed. We are now working on the transformational issues – how we make the Army more adaptable and integrated. We are also transforming the way we finance the Army, as a result of Lord Levene’s Defence Reform paper. Transformational issues also include a new employment model and the Army command review. All this will take time to report and implement, hence A2020.
Following the recent release of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) it is clear with the commitment to above inflation budget rises and a ring-fenced defence budget that the MOD has been given substantial backing and the financial tools to secure the Nation's security, but today and for the future. One only needs to consider the equipment budget, which is stable and forecast for the next 15 years, to realise the fundamental effect this strategic vision is having; from the new aircraft carriers and fighter jets for the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to the 600 armoured vehicles being procured for the Army. And it is not just a case of buying some kit; the Army will use those 600 vehicles to directly equip and empower a specially tailored force called a Strike Brigade, in keeping with the shape, size and capability forecast and directed by A2020.
Is the kit and equipment you have in the Army good enough?
Very good. We seek to buy the best equipment we can afford, and prioritise equipment to meet the objectives that we have been set. Equipment procurement procedures are getting better; the latest independent audit of the equipment plan found the cost of the MOD’s 11 biggest equipment programmes fell by £397m in the past year. The current plan is to spend around £163bn on new equipment and support over the next 10 years. For the Army, our priority is delivering the 9 key projects that will deliver the Army's new strike capability including the AJAX armoured fighting vehicle. MOD has reduced costs by almost £400m in our major projects and enjoyed our best performance on cost since 2005 and on time since 2001.