Former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois MP, has released a Report, originally commissioned by the Prime Minister, which argues for more spending on Armed Forces Personnel and their families to improve Retention, even at the expense of new equipment. The Report, entitled “Stick or Twist?”, which has been seen by the PM, concluded that:
“Defence will have to take some difficult balance of investment decisions in order to spend more money on Armed Forces personnel and their families and less on shiny new equipment – because if not, within several years, there are unlikely to be sufficient qualified and experienced personnel in Defence to operate the highly expensive kit in the first place.”
The Report, was conducted using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, employing MoD official statistics, PAC/NAO reports and other official source materials. These were then combined with interviews with all four Service Chiefs, the three Families Federations, industry stakeholders, plus over 200 individual submissions from service personnel and/or their families. In addition, the team conducted 11 ‘Ground Truth’ visits to Service establishments across the UK to participate in multiple focus groups with personnel and families about why people leave the Armed Forces and what might be done to Retain them instead.
Commenting on the findings of the “Stick or Twist?” report, Mark Francois MP said:
“My team and I have worked for over a year to provide proposals to improve Retention. Some of these, such as extending the Forces Help to Buy Scheme and expanding Childcare for service personnel are thankfully already being actioned. We have made further proposals, including taking Service Families Accommodation (SFA) away from the failing Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and vesting it in a dedicated Forces Housing Association (FHA) instead. This new entity would be optimised to provide decent, affordable accommodation for service personnel and their families and would be run in their interests, not that of the MoD bureaucracy. However, there is always more to do, in order to persuade personnel to “Stick” rather than to “Twist” and dare I say it, Remain in HM Armed Forces”.