Ask the Commander - Responses
When the MRS Sennelager closes on 31 July 2019, the TSU will maintain an ATS service for patients to get from Paderborn / Sennelager area to Bielefeld. Depending on numbers of people travelling, it may continue as an on call service, but if larger numbers dictate, it may become a scheduled service.
As we approach drawdown, the HQ BFG team is working with DIO to ensure that we not waste time and money in bringing properties to a higher standard than is necessary for either reoccupation or hand-back. For properties that are rented from German landlords, the standards and criteria will be specified within the rental agreement or lease and must be met to ensure costs are not charged by the landlord.
It is important to liaise with your Housing Estate Manager (HEM) and make early arrangements for a pre-move out visit, as they will explain the standards required for your property. The HEM can also discuss the standards with the landlord to see if there is scope for variation from the contract.
It should be noted that those occupants with pets are still required to have a pet clean carried out on their carpets.
I would like to start by highlighting that the status of members in the BFG Community is granted under the Status of Forces Agreement and not the UK’s membership in the European Union (EU). This Agreement will remain unchanged following our departure from the EU.
The SOFA and Supplementary Agreement permit members of the force, members of the civilian component and dependents to drive in Germany on the basis of their UK driving licences. A consequence of leaving the EU is that it may be necessary in the future to issue an additional permit. However, this is an administrative process and would not, for example, involve taking a practical driving test.
I would like to start by highlighting that the status and most privileges enjoyed by members of the BFG Community are granted under the Status of Forces Agreement and not the UK’s membership in the European Union (EU). This Agreement will remain unchanged following our departure from the EU.
However, a number of benefits, including Kindergeld, do stem from membership of the EU. The UK and EU have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a time-limited implementation period, which is expected to run until the end of 2020. We anticipate that common rules will remain in place until the end of the Implementation period. Therefore families rebasing in the Summer of 2019 should not notice any changes resulting from BREXIT.
I would like to start by clarifying that across the 3 services and civil servants, the Ministry of Defence has a number of Isolated Detachments (ISODETs) based in Germany in locations for example Flensburg, Növenich and Koln. These staff posts were not included in the Army Basing Plan and will therefore remain after the closure of HQ BFG. As the title suggests, ISODETs are often singleton posts and are sparsely located. It is estimated that the number of people in these ISODETs will remain around 250 strong, which with their families will make the total around 750 people.
Work is on-going to determine the future support arrangements for ISODETs and individuals remaining in Germany after the closure of BFG in 2019. However, it is likely the provision of Firm Base will be different after the closure of BFG and services may be provided in new ways.
To summarise the rules, the type of property you are entitled to is usually dependant of your rank for officers and family size for other ranks. When you apply for SFA, the CarillionAmey Occupancy Services Team will allocate you a property using the preferences you have expressed and based on your entitlement or eligibility, competing requirements, and service agreements. However, when children no longer qualify as dependant they can continue to reside in the SFA as non-dependant adult children but will no longer qualify under the size of family criteria for the purposes of SFA allocation.
HQ BFG meets regularly with Units and Welfare Teams to discuss rebasing issues and SFA differences have already featured heavily in these discussions. I recognise the importance of this engagement and we will continue to raise awareness around important issues as we approach rebasing and drawdown. One final point I would like to reinforce is that there is also a responsibility on individuals to understand the entitlements to their specific circumstances, as this varies from person to person.
It is worth noting that the Punchlines magazine is a 20 AI Bde publication which is produced by the Garrison Information Office (GIO). Therefore, BFG’s involvement and influence over the publication only began in 2017 when responsibility for the GIO team transferred to HQ BFG, but even now editorial control rightly rests with Comd 20 Bde.
As owner of Punchlines, Comd 20 AI Bde decided that the final edition of the Punchlines magazine would be in Summer 2018. As a result BFG reviewed its communication requirements against its communications channels and available funding, to determine if we should continue Punchlines as a BFG publication. However, we concluded that the our future messaging and communications requirements could be better fulfilled through other methods such as the BFG Bulletin, BFGNet and the BFG Facebook page. Therefore, as you can see, this really is a joint (20 AI Bde and HQ BFG) and considered decision.
If you have not already done so, I would strongly encourage you to follow the BFGnet Facebook page as this provides regular BFG news and updates. BFGnet has recently been refreshed and includes community news and “Need to Know” updates, which may be of interest to you. In addition, we are exploring new ways to continue communicating with the wider community, so please look out for these and we would welcome suggestions from you on other areas that we could explore.
I understand that 2 Fd Coy Elec Pl has been operating in accommodation that is not intended to be an office space and this is the primary cause of the temperature issues you have been experiencing. I understand that suitable alternative office space has been identified for these offices on the ground floor of Building 3 in Rochdale Barracks and so this problem has now been resolved.
I am aware that an electronic notice board has recently been installed at the gate in Rochdale Barracks to replace an existing, broken asset. This replacement notice board will provide wider awareness of barrack and security issues and will become an increasingly important messaging tool as we approach drawdown. In addition to this, the notice board will be allocated to an alternative MOD site once BFG no longer require it and so this investment, part of an ongoing 2 year programme, will not be wasted. I would also like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we will continue to scrutinise spending as we approach drawdown, but that also we will continue to invest where it is needed.
I would advise that your daughter contact her receiving Unit HR department to discuss her personal circumstances. There is provision in Germany for Service Personnel to be accompanied by permanently resident close relatives. Your daughter will need to apply to the Dependant Status Review Panel prior to her arrival. They will review her case and provide advice on conditions of residency accordingly. This can be done as soon as she has received her Assignment Order.
The policy on this subject is contained within SI BFG 3217 Para; 2.13 which your daughter can obtain through her receiving Unit HR department.
I would like to reassure you that your daughter will receive advice and support during the application process which should take no longer than 2 weeks.
BFG and NAAFI are committed to contributing to the Government’s ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’. I am pleased to advise that the NAAFI were already reviewing their plastic bag policy and from 1st June 2018 they will be introducing the charges below:
- Single use plastic bags – 0.05€
- Recyclable brown paper bags – 0.15€
- Re-usable polypropylene bags – €1.00
- Re-usable insulated bags – €1.50
NAAFI have confirmed that any profits made from the sale of single use plastic bags or brown paper bags, less any reasonable administrative costs, will be donated to either a military charity or environmental group.