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Armed Forces Families: “Living in our Shoes” Report

Volume 722: debated on Monday 7 November 2022

May I first pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his excellent, comprehensive report? Families are an integral part of the armed forces community, and our evolving assistance to them includes funding wraparound childcare, supporting children’s education and the employment of partners as societal expectations evolve and change. The armed forces families strategy, published in January, sets out the Government’s response to “Living in our Shoes” and sets the framework for the delivery of more sympathetic policies in relation to armed forces families that are fit for the future.

Will the Government make public each of the six monthly service family steering group meetings and the progress that has been made on each of the 106 accepted recommendations, and ensure that we have parity of esteem in the way that we look after both veterans and service families—a wonderful group of people on whom the defence of the nation depends?

I am very sympathetic to my hon. Friend. We owe so much to our families and he highlights that very well in his report. Of course we meet service families all the time and I am more than happy to meet him at any time to update him on what we intend to do as a result of his report and indeed the veterans strategy, published earlier this year, which covered many service families and members of the service community.

With regard to the report, we learned in the pursuit of a recent constituency case that the Ministry of Defence was not able to decide whether to deduct earnings from service personnel in child maintenance cases, which is leaving some service families in a difficult situation. Can the Minister advise me on how the Ministry of Defence is ensuring that families get the support they are entitled to?

I did of course outline some of the ways in which we have been supporting families in my earlier remarks. I would urge anybody in the service community who is concerned about their situation and who wants help to contact their welfare officer through the Veterans Agency. The veterans gateway is an extremely good place to start.