Armed Forces: Life Satisfaction

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 2017.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 12:00 am, 10th July 2017

What steps his Department is taking to improve service life satisfaction rates in the Armed Forces.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The experience and morale of service personnel are central to defence. Both the Department and the new single services place the management of this as a high priority. As such, we have put in place a large number of programmes, namely the flexible engagement system—a Bill on which will come to the House shortly—the future accommodation model, the new joiners offer and the armed forces family strategy.

Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

Currently, forces families are given special assistance by local authorities when they leave the Army. Is the Minister aware that, upon divorce or separation, an Army spouse is instantly no longer classed as part of an Army family and receives no such support? Will he look into this and consider amending the advice given to local authorities?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I am certainly happy to look into that, and I am grateful that the hon. Lady has taken the matter up. It is important that we get the package of measures right so that we can support our armed forces personnel and their families as they transition through their career.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Conservative, Colchester

A key part of improving service life satisfaction is ensuring that soldiers can get their children into a good school that understands military life. Will the Minister join me in congratulating Montgomery Infant School and Nursery and Montgomery Junior School, which are celebrating having served the military community in Colchester for 50 years?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place. Those are two schools out of almost 500 around the country that are located near garrisons and that provide support for the children of armed forces personnel. It is important that that continues. The service pupil premium is important for making sure that we look after those pupils, particularly as they end up moving around because of their parents’ careers.

Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

Would service life satisfaction rates be improved by job security? On that basis, will the Minister assure the House that the Army will be no smaller at the end of this Parliament than it is now?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

That is absolutely the intention. The hon. Gentleman is right to look at the life satisfaction survey, which is one reason behind some of the initiatives that I have mentioned, including the various reviews that are taking place.