On Monday Parliament debated a new complaints system for the armed forces. This is part of the work the government is doing to improve and define the Military Covenant.
The forces covenant is meant to give armed service personnel decent terms and conditions, recognising that military discipline takes away some rights other workers enjoy. During the debate I raised the issue of what happens when a member of the armed services has to move to a different location when instructed to do so. This can be difficult for the family and disruptive of the wife or husband’s employment. In view of this surely there should be some flexibility in the government rules to help those who are doing all they can to co-operate with military requirements? Late requests to move at short notice are particularly difficult for all concerned.
I have myself for some time urged the MOD to look at offering more of its armed service personnel a home base to which they return following duty abroad, and to limit the number of moves required within the UK. This would assist more military staff to buy their own home if they wished, with the help of the MOD schemes. It would enable children of serving personnel to have more stability in their schooling, and would be less disruptive for husbands and wives. As the average ages of serving military personnel coincides with the most popular ages to have children we do need to help families when one of their members wishes to serve the nation.
I have campaigned for more assistance with home purchase. Military service usually terminates well before normal retirement age. Many ex military personnel have no home to live in when their service ends. If they have moved between various military establishments, renting MOD accommodation, they often have little or no priority on housing lists in individual Council areas. We should be able to do better for our armed services, and plan with them their return to civilian life. The Minister assured me they were finding good levels of take up of MOD home ownership schemes, but more could be done.