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Liberal Democrats

F16: Armed Forces Personnel: Recruitment, Retention and Welfare

Submitted by 22 members

Mover: Baroness Smith of Newnham | Summator: Doug Harper

This motion applies to   


Armed Forces personnel statistics show that manning is over 5% below the minimum level laid out in Security and Defence Review 2015. The Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey shows a majority (61%) describing morale in the Services as “low” and historic numbers of personnel are leaving before the end of their contracted time. The motion aims to highlight the manning shortfall, particularly shortfalls in specialist areas that take years and significant investment to train, and the implications for the UK’s defence and international interests in an uncertain post-Brexit world.

The reasons for recruitment and retention problems are complex: the Armed Forces have faced considerable change over the last decade, including a significant manning reduction, the outsourcing of services like accommodation and catering, pension changes, and budget cuts. Attitude surveys indicate that these policies have led to a reduction in satisfaction.

The motion lays out a number of policies aimed at improving recruitment and retention, including: improving the experience for military families; addressing the adverse impact of certain MOD policies, particularly on accommodation; lifting the pay freeze; protecting personnel community, welfare and accommodation budgets; improving the implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant; healthcare; and initiatives targeted specifically at specialists.

Full text of the motion:

Conference recognises:

  1. That retaining skilled and experienced personnel in the Armed Forces is vitally important to the security of the United Kingdom.
  2. The contribution made by Armed Forces personnel and their families, the impact of service life on Armed Forces families and the connection between this and retention of skilled, experienced personnel.
  3. The Liberal Democrats' record of delivery in government, which led to the legal recognition of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Conference notes with concern:

  1. Escalating shortfalls in recruitment and retention of Armed Forces personnel, which is insufficient to meet the minimum necessary level laid out in Security and Defence Review 2015.
  2. Acute shortages in specialist areas, including engineers and analysts, and particularly in the Army and the Royal Air Force.
  3. Chronic low morale, with 61% describing morale in the Service as "low" in the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2017.
  4. Record levels of voluntary outflow of military personnel.

Conference calls for measures to increase the recruitment and retention of military personnel including:

  1. The lifting of the 1% pay cap and better protection of the budget for personnel, community and welfare services, and estates to prevent it being used to plug big-ticket equipment shortfalls.
  2. An urgent review into the recruitment of technical specialists across the forces in order to introduce new initiatives to incentivise careers in the Armed Forces.
  3. Simplification and reform of the Combined Accommodation Assessment System (CAAS) to ensure accommodation charges are consistent, easier to understand and appeal, and assurance that the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) properly fits the needs of personnel and their families.
  4. A re-write of the accommodation maintenance contract to ensure decisions on preventative and additional works are made locally and the end-user experience is at its core; to include giving occupants of military accommodation the same legal rights to repair and maintenance as tenants in the private sector.
  5. Recognition of serving personnelÕs children in schools admissions process to monitor the impact of having to apply late and/or mid-year due to military postings and to improve and standardise local authority support to military families (eg. help when applying from outside the area, applying at short notice, accommodating children with additional needs).
  6. Continued funding for projects providing job training and career support to military spouses.
  7. Significant improvements in the implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant across the public and private sector.
  8. An improvement in the provision of healthcare and other services for Reserve forces personnel deploying on, or at high readiness for, military operations.
  9. A review into mental health exclusions in the Armed Forces' medical criteria for recruitment.

Conference further calls for provision of better support for veterans including:

  1. The inclusion of veterans on the Census.
  2. A review of the Career Transition Partnership with a view to extending its remit to provide free further or higher education for anyone who have served for at least 12 years.
  3. Better recognition and treatment of mental ill-health for veterans.

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