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Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance is available to non-forces spouses to find suitable alternative accommodation following the breakdown of armed forces marriages. 
Every effort is made by the services to effect a reconciliation, with the local service commander able to authorise a cooling off period of up to three
months. During this time, it is usual for the service person to move into single living accommodation, leaving the other party in the services family accommodation (SFA).
After the cooling off period or when it becomes clear that no reconciliation is possible, the local service authorities are required to inform the Housing Information Centre (HIC) of the change in circumstance. The HIC will then issue a 93-day Notice to Vacate for the party who remains in the property, and also a Certificate of Cessation of Entitlement to Occupy Service Families Accommodation that will assist the family to seek social housing from their local authority on expiry of the notice to vacate their SFA. However, no one will be evicted from SFA until alternative accommodation has been found.
Within the armed forces, further advice for both partners with regards to finding new accommodation is available from the Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO). In addition to providing advice, the JSHAO operates a nomination scheme with a number of housing associations in England and Wales that allow applicants to apply for social housing in areas in which they wish to reside.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 16 October 2007, Official Report, column 937W, on armed forces housing, what plans he has for accommodation disposal in each of the next three years; and how much will be generated from each such disposal. 
Derek Twigg: The majority of service families accommodation (SFA) in England and Wales is leased from Annington Homes Ltd. and properties no longer required for defence purposes are returned to the company. Although no receipt accrues to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in respect of properties returned, there are savings in rent, contributions in lieu of council tax and maintenance.
Overseas, the majority of SFA are returned to the host government when no longer needed, but SFA on permanent joint operations bases are owned by the MOD. When they are no longer required, the future of these properties is determined by the MOD.
In respect of single living (barrack) accommodation (SLA), this is usually within the wire of a service establishment and the disposal normally forms part of the disposal of the wider site. Receipts cannot, therefore, be estimated specifically for SLA.
It is not possible to separate out the accommodation element of these targets. Receipts from house sales will depend on market conditions at the time of sale, the area and the type of property. To release any valuations we may have carried out ahead of the sale would, in any case, be likely to influence the market and these are thus regarded as commercially confidential until the sale is complete.
Derek Twigg: All three Services undertake numerous and varied initiatives, both at national and local level, aimed at sustaining and increasing the level of recruitment to the armed forces. Included among the many current initiatives are:
The use of multi-media advertising campaigns, including digital media;
Services' presentation teams' attendance at schools, careers fairs and graduate recruitment seminars, road shows, exhibitions, youth clubs and organisations;
Specialist teams to attract doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers and padres by promoting Service careers within specialist recruitment shows and through professional bodies;
Work experience placements within Service establishments;
Personal development courses and Look at Life Courses for young people who express an interest in the armed forces;
Taster day visits to HM ships and service establishments;
A dedicated careers website for each of the Services complete with a dedicated information support call centre;
An Army on-line recruiting office, with plans for this to be replicated by the other Services;
Specialist ethnic minority recruiting and diversity action teams aimed at promoting armed forces careers among the UK's ethnic minority and faith communities;
A partnership with Jobcentre Plus, making use of its network (totalling in excess of 1,100) of local outlets;
Financial incentives, for example: Golden Hellios, for those who have studied specific vocational subjects to a set level; and re-joining bounties to certain trades.
Turning to retention; in the armed forces as a whole, retention rates are broadly stable and we have seen no sudden outflow of personnel. However, there are areas where exit rates remain too high. These areas are continuously monitored closely and focused action taken to continue to improve recruitment and retention. We continue to restructure our forces so that they can best meet operational demands. Retention measures such as commitment bonuses, re-engagement packages, financial retention initiatives and initiatives to improve work/life balance and working conditions at the front line, continue to be used with the aim of
discouraging outflow. There are a number of specific initiatives currently being undertaken such as the strategic remuneration review and the defence living accommodation strategy which will contribute towards this effort. In addition, we have made improvements to travel allowances to permit personnel to get home more easily and we continue to add to the deployment welfare package, that provides additional support to people deployed on operations and their families. We have also introduced a council tax rebate for serving personnel deployed on designated operations while also promoting measures such as work/life balance and career breaks to improve the day-to-day lives of Service personnel and their families.
The Services are also currently examining further non-financial retention measures including, in the near term, continuance of service, restructuring of trades to relieve pinch points, and being more flexible on what rank is required for a given post. Longer term work is also being carried out into the potential for easier movement between regular and reserve service, more flexible employment generally, assistance with house purchase, and any opportunities for stability a more regionalised Service might offer.
Derek Twigg: The MOD has both self imposed as well as legal restrictions placed upon training on all its training areas. Dependent upon the size, location and type of training area these restrictions may be simply to meet basic legal requirements and good practice standards, or they could be significant limitations imposed as a result of conservation designations or planning permissions. This ensures the long term sustainability of the estate.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 568, on armed services capacity, if he will place in the Library a copy of the assumptions and methodology used to estimate the cost of three infantry battalions at £700 million; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: While the costs of an infantry battalion are not generally held centrally (as these figures are extensive and spread over a wide variety of budgets), a set of general assumptions on which to base an illustrative costing of adding three infantry battalions has been developed.
These costings are dependent on the inter-relationship of a range of complex factors. Each of the assumptions that have been made is regarded as the most reasonable for indicative costing. Costs would break down broadly into two categories: the initial start-up and capital investment costs, and the annual running costs.
Three light role infantry battalions, based in the UK, not held at high readiness and consisting of 625 personnel per battalion;
Three new barracks (furnished and equipped to standard). It is assumed that there are no existing empty barracks that are fit for purpose in which to accommodate the battalions, and co-location on a single site is unlikely;
The requirement for new single living accommodation (furnished and equipped to standard) (400 SLAs per battalion);
The requirement for new service family accommodation (furnished and equipped to standard) (225 SFAs per battalion);
Build is on land currently owned by MOD (therefore, there is no cost assumed for any requirement to purchase land);
There are no appreciable costs to gain planning permission or prepare the sites and access to them;
That over the period of implementation, this will not materially change the totality of Defences demand for personal clothing and equipment;
There is no impact on the Equipment Customer Capability Programme in that existing and programmed equipments, vehicles and communication items are whole fleet managed;
Initial recruitment costs are based on a total of 2,802 enlistments required to generate a throughput of 1,875;
Basic and collective training costs(1);
Annual barrack running costs estimated at 10 per cent. of cost of new build;
Annual salary costs (pay, national insurance and pensions) based on salaries within a rank structure of a light role infantry battalion;
No additional cost is assumed for allowances such as operational, separation and education allowances;
No other running cost is assumed (e.g. annual recruitment and retention and other costs);
No depreciation and cost of capital charges are assumed;
Figures quoted are at 2007-08 prices.
Recruitment costs (given a recruit pass rate of only 67 per cent., a total of 2,802 enlistments are required to generate a throughput of 1,875 (625 personnel per battalion) at a cost of £12,000(2) per enlistment
|(1) The battalions will conduct the following collective training (CT): CT levels 1 and 2individual and sub unit training; CT level 3unit level trainingin this context it is assumed that the battalions will conduct exercises Druids Dance and Wessex Warrior. For the purposes of this exercise CT 4/5 training has been excluded (the all arms overseas training exercise in Kenya) on the assumption that there would be no increase in the incident of currently funded exercises; the key cost drivers are ammunition costs. T and S costs have been estimated as have clothing and textile costs based on usage for units in 1 (UK) Division. No account has been taken of longer separation allowance costs for training activities.|
(2) Costs are calculated on a full cost basis and therefore contain an element of overhead as well as fixed and variable costs.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no plans to change the standard six-month tour of duty for Army units. A small number of individuals (reviewed on a case by case basis) undertake longer tours for purposes of continuity and relationship building.
Derek Twigg: Recruiting targets are set against an annual, not monthly, requirement across financial years. Officers are not recruited against Arm or Corps targets but against a whole Army requirement. The annual enlistment targets for soldiers only are shown as follows, together with the figures actually achieved.
|Arm or Corps||Enlistment achievement||Annual target||Enlistment achievement to 31 October||Annual target|
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