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The Ministry of Defence's (MOD) central Families' Policy branch monitors the development and implementation of policy to assess the impact on families, will oversee implementation of future strategy and continue to have overarching responsibility for MOD's application of the Family Test. Given the wide range of policies implemented across Defence each year, no single individual could be involved in each relevant submission or policy discussion. However, MOD does have a nominated Family Test lead who forms part of the cross-Government Family Test Network which is the central forum through which MOD has contributed to improvements to the existing guidance for officials in all Departments on Family Test implementation.
The Government is committed to supporting families. To achieve this, in 2014 we introduced the Family Test, which aims to ensure that impacts on family relationships are recognised early on during the process of policy development and help inform the policy decisions made by Ministers.
We recognise the vital role that Armed Forces' families play, and that operational capability relies on recognising the Service person as part of a wider family unit. This is why we launched the first ever UK Armed Forces Families' Strategy in 2016, which focuses and coordinates activity to support Service families. Priorities for this work include childcare, partner employment and accommodation, which have consistently remained areas of interest for both the Service Families' Federations and the Department.
A key component of the Families' Strategy is to ensure that Service families are considered in people policy development, supporting the principles outlined in the Family Test. This is achieved through consideration of the Service family as part of each relevant submission or policy discussion, and through regular engagement with the single Services and the three Families' Federations who represent the needs and views of Service families.
In acknowledgement of the unique circumstances of Service life and the challenges this can present modern families, in December 2018 former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson CBE MP commissioned Andrew Selous MP to conduct an independent review of the support provided to Service families. The independent review is expected to be published soon and will form the basis of the new Families Strategy for 2020 and beyond; as with the extant 2016 Strategy, the Government's Family Test will continue to be a critical tool for policy makers in applying the principles of the new strategy.