In the second of five articles from the New Employment Model (NEM) team, Chief of Defence Personnel, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory attempts to reassure us that the NEM proposals will not dramatically reduce the 'offer'.
Sadly, the most recent Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) shows that we already dubious and believe that the offer has been successively reduced over the years. Consider pay - the survey reveals that only 39% are satisfied with their basic pay (unchanged to 2012 but is 13% lower compared to 2010 when the public sector pay freeze began). The figures relating to pension are even worse - only 33% are currently satisfied with our pension benefits (a 7% point decrease in satisfaction compared to 2012 and a 28% point decrease in satisfaction compared to 2007), with the proportion of personnel citing 'pension' as a factor that 'increases intentions to leave' on the increase compared to 2012. This downward trend can only get worse once the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme is introduced, which according to the Forces Pension Society will be 'something like a 12% reduction in value'.
We would be foolish to think that in today's fiscal climate that we can re-inflate our remuneration package, but we must be careful that what is ultimately offered by the NEM reflects what the majority of the Services wish. It is interesting to note that under the transfer to the new pension scheme, those who retain favourable accrued rights are the very senior officers who are responsible for implementing the changes, whilst those of us who are more junior face a significant reduction in the value of our pensions. The Myth-buster promises increased support for home ownership, changes to career management which are designed to improve domestic stability and career predictability for many, and improved opportunities for part-time working – these may be highly desirable in principle, but the devil is in the detail. Furthermore as pointed out yesterday, until the whole package is announced we will not be able to see what other remuneration packages have been cut to fund the NEM proposals.
The NEM was originally proposed as the new Terms and Conditions of Service for those joining the Forces in 2020, it is important to highlight that some of these measures are now going to be not only advanced for implementation before 2020, but also made applicable to those already serving. As Chief of Defence Personnel, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory states, "I also know how important it is to ensure that the NEM meets the needs of our existing personnel, and that we manage transition from the old to the new sensibly." He continues "I am absolutely clear that the key critical success factor for me as CDP is to retain the trust of people in Defence by ensuring a credible and realistic offer."
Unfortunately, the AFCAS proves that we have little trust in our senior officers. When asked if senior officers understand and represent my interests, the tri-Service response was hugely negative – only 26% agreed, 34% were neutral and the majority 39% disagreed. Fundamentally, how can we trust our senior officers to properly represent our interests if they are also the same individuals who have to implement the direction from the government? If the senior officers do not toe the line, they face the sack as General Dannatt (who many believe to have been effectively sacked after Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup was extended in post) found out to his cost. BAFF welcomes the recent Liberal Democrat proposal that their Conference endorses the right of representation by an armed forces federation and looks forward to the day when it becomes government policy...