We are beginning to see long overdue improvements in the delivery of housing, healthcare and education for Forces families, writes AFF Chief Executive Catherine Spencer.

There’s a long way to go but the Armed Forces Covenant, which aims to remove disadvantage from Service life, is beginning to open doors across Government to ensure that your unique needs are considered.

AFF has significant input into the Covenant and we’re always keen to hear from you on any area where you think more could be done.

We depend on your evidence to demonstrate where there are disadvantages and through our links with the Army chain of command, Government and service providers like DIO and MHS, we make sure your voice is heard.

So keep telling us your concerns through our AFF Co-ordinators, and by visiting our website and completing our surveys at www.aff.org.uk

Your soldier’s working hours

Thank you to all those families who responded to AFF’s annual survey, which this year focused on your soldier’s working hours.

It paints a pretty bleak picture of Army life and I am concerned that current working hours are unsustainable.

Whilst specific periods of intense activity are acceptable around deployment and exercise, the now normal working day for our soldiers gives no time to redress the balance of long absences and is not being rewarded by pay.

I made a compelling and strong case for a pay rise for your soldier to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body in October, the results of which we’ll know more on in the New Year.

I am all too aware that your soldier’s pay packet has reduced in real terms as a result of pay freezes/caps.

This needs to be addressed if the Forces are to remain a competitive employer as the economy improves.

The phrase “recruit the soldier, retain the family” may be overused but inability to spend meaningful family time combined with a drop in “real” pay must be addressed if families are to encourage our soldiers to remain serving.


Our recent survey showed the impact that defence cuts are having on family life. More than 2,500 of you responded and initial findings show that:

  • 71% of you have seen an increase in your soldier’s hours in the last two years 
  • 65% of soldiers didn’t manage to take all their leave entitlement last year
  • 19% of you have incurred extra childcare costs
  • 20% of you have needed extra help from family due to the increase
  • 14% of you have had to give up work due to your soldier’s hours increasing
  • 35% of soldiers are working on average 10 hours a day (not including commute)
  • 30% of you agree that your soldier does not have a good work/life balance

Further details can be found at www.aff.org.uk 

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