Three new initiatives, aimed at modernising the living and working arrangements for Armed Forces personnel will be launched today, 1 April. Our people are at the heart of Defence and these measures, including flexible working arrangements, expanded accommodation options and new cohabitation rules, are designed to modernise our Armed Forces and ensure they remain a competitive employer that meets the ever-changing needs and expectations of service personnel and their families.
First, from today, the Ministry of Defence is introducing flexible service to regular service personnel from all services. Personnel can apply to work part-time—reducing their normal working pattern by 20% or 40% and or request restricted separation—which limits the amount of time spent away from their normal home base to no more than 35 days per year. Pay and annual leave entitlements will be amended accordingly. Flexible service periods are subject to operational capability, limited to three years and individuals cannot exceed four years of flexible service in a 12-year period.
Secondly, current accommodation policy is being amended from today, to allow couples in long-term relationships, to live together in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) subject to availability. Service personnel who have more than four years’ service in the Armed Forces and who are in a long-term relationship or have residential responsibility for a child and are able to provide appropriate evidence of this, will be eligible to apply to live together in surplus SFA at all UK bases where properties are available. They will retain their marital status category but will not become eligible for wider allowances. This important change in policy to allow cohabitation will benefit all services and all ranks.
Finally, the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) will be launched in September, at the first pilot site, Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde. Two further pilot sites, Aldershot Garrison and RAF Wittering, will be launched in 2020. The pilot will last approximately three years and evidence will be gathered over the pilot period to refine the policy as the pilot develops. FAM will provide more choice to service personnel regarding where and with whom they live, making use of the private rental sector (including housing associations), alongside existing options of single living accommodation, SFA and home ownership. Accommodation entitlement will change to reflect the size of the family, rather than one’s rank as in current policy, promoting fairness and ensuring homes are fit for purpose. The FAM policy has been designed so that the cost to service personnel to rent property will be broadly the same as the equivalent type of SFA.