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Service Families

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 2017.

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Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South 12:00 am, 27th November 2017

What steps he is taking to improve support for families of deployed service personnel.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

What steps he is taking to improve support for the families of deployed servicemen and women.

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

Personnel deployed on operations must have confidence that their families at home are able to access the support they need. Our welfare support is provided to families before, during and after deployment.

Photo of Faisal Rashid Faisal Rashid Labour, Warrington South

The tri-service families continuous attitude survey 2017 found that one in three spouses did not even know where to go for services that provide welfare support while their partner is deployed. Does the Minister agree it is vital that service families know where help is available? What steps are the Department taking to ensure that that is the case?

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

I am sorry to hear that the hon. Gentleman has an example of where the system has perhaps not worked as it should. It is very important, if we are to have the most professional armed forces in the world, that those deployed know that their loved ones are looked after back home. I am happy to meet him to discuss in more detail the particular issue he raises.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

Will the Minister join me in congratulating Newport County football club and Newport Live on recently joining the armed forces covenant? Does he agree that the only adequate way we can deal fairly with those who have been injured in body or mind by their service is to provide them with facilities and benefits that will leave them in a position where they do not have to rely on charities?

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

The hon. Gentleman makes reference to the armed forces covenant. It is probably the single biggest change in support and recognises that no member of the armed forces or veteran should be somehow disadvantaged because of their service. He is right to pay tribute to that, and I encourage all hon. Members to visit their local authorities and ask what is being done to ensure that they are living up to the requirements of the armed forces covenant.

Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney

One of the most important things for deployed servicemen is to know that their families back home are in safe, secure and high-quality accommodation. The need for the redevelopment of the REEMA sites in Carterton, outside RAF Brize Norton in my constituency, is now acute. Will the Minister please tell me what hope the future accommodation will provide to those servicemen living in my constituency?

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

I was hoping to share with the House the importance of the future accommodation model, which is ensuring that we update the accommodation available to armed forces personnel. Some want to rent and some want to live outside—that is what the accommodation model is all about. If I may, Mr Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to the work of the Families Federations in supporting our armed forces personnel and their families when personnel are on operations.