2013 seems a lot like 2012. The three Rs – Redundancy, Reserves and Rebasing will take centre stage as the detail of the Strategic Defence and Security Review which set defence cuts in motion moves near to completion. Here, Catherine Spencer, AFF Chief Executive, tells us what AFF is doing to represent families’ concerns…

Redundancy is an enduring issue as many families will find themselves facing months of concern over whether their soldier will be made redundant. As I write, I am waiting to find out if, just like last year, whether that will be us. Rumours that as many as 26,000 Service personnel will be told that they are in the bracket to find 5,300 redundancies means that worry will be widespread throughout our community. AFF has been kept well informed of the redundancy plans through our connections with senior command and it’s evident that they have to put into place something which they’d rather not have to do.

The recent situation in North Africa has given a timely reminder as to the continued need [for our Armed Forces] in what Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations, described as ‘a messy world and it’s just taken another difficult turn’.

Impact on the family

Brigadier Rob Nitsch, Director Manning Army said at our AFF Families’ Conference in September 2012, ‘I didn’t join the Army to make 20,000 people redundant’. Redundancy is a painful issue for all involved and during my recent meetings with Brigadier Nitsch, Major General Richard Nugee, Director General Personnel, and Brigadier Nick Orr, Director Media & Communications, I have been reassured by their understanding that, for the Army, redundancy is a family issue and that housing, education and the potential to find a new income source for both the soldier and partner creates a worrying prospect. AFF has already asked the question on availability of Service Families Accommodation (SFA) in the UK for families relocating from abroad as the larger numbers in this tranche could put pressure on the availability of SFA for the whole Forces community.

Sources of help

During the last two rounds of redundancy, AFF has made recommendations to improve the communication and support to families going through the redundancy process. Information is available through a redundancy brochure produced by command and help is also available on the AFF website. Big White Wall is a free online emotional health resource for those lonely moments of concern. If your soldier is in the bracket, you should be thinking about what you will do if they are made redundant and your local AFF Co-ordinator or staff at AFF Central Office can help you find assistance – www.aff.org.uk

Feedback to AFF

We rely on your feedback so that we can competently comment on the views of the Army community so doemail  feedback@aff.org.uk if you’d like to tell us your view on redundancy or follow me on Twitter @AFFChiefExec. We particularly want to know about any difficulties you find. AFF will be looking into whether working hours are being affected by the results of gapped posts and under-manning and I wonder how many families will be assigned at short notice because of the need to fill a post?

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