Response Categories
Q.My question is regarding the closure of the PRI shop in Block 8, Catterick Bks.
The Hive are displaying a poster on the HIVEBLOG.BFG, stating the PRI shop will not reopen for business in 2019.
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I understand that facilities will end in the near future and that staffing may get difficult but to close the shop completely with six/seven months still remaining in BFG would be disappointing.
However there are a few of us willing to volunteer if possible to keep this facility running.
A.

As we discussed previously, it is commendable that members of the community have volunteered to keep this facility running. I believe it is this community spirit that makes the BFG community a fantastic place to be. But regrettably, on this occasion, the retention of the Bielefeld PRI shop is financially unsustainable.

I would like to remind you that you are still able to enjoy the Paderborn PRI shop, which aligns with words I have used before regarding community support; you will have access to the same services, it’s just that they may be provided in a different way.

Q.At a recent draw-down meeting, the C&I representative made comment that BREXIT may affect the tax free status of personnel in BFG.
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As you have previously stated, the status of members in BFG is granted under the SOFA and not the UK’s membership in the EU. This Agreement will remain unchanged following our departure from the EU. Please can clarity on this important issue be made as the worry of receiving a tax bill for £1000's for a vehicle is potentially undue.
A.

I can confirm that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) will remain unchanged following the UK’s exit from the European Union. However, it is not just the SOFA that is relevant when it comes to importing goods to the UK.  In those circumstances UK customs regulations are also relevant. These are agreed and implemented independently of the SOFA, and it is these rules that could result in tax liabilities in the event of a no-deal BREXIT.  

HQ BFG have provided some information on how a no-deal BREXIT could affect individuals which I would strongly encourage you to review.

Eu_and_You.pdf

Q.I recently attended a Drawdown meeting during which it was announced that from March 2019 the number of Tax-Free ‘chits’ an individual can hold at any one time will be reduced from five to one.
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I have since sought the reasoning behind this decision from those involved and received a variety of responses none of which has convinced me that this is not an unnecessary retrograde step. I feel that this decision is in direct contradiction of your regular assurances that Firm Base support will be maintained for as long as practicably possible and is another premature nail in the coffin of BFG. Can I ask is this restriction going to be imposed on the Enduring Force at Sennelager and our ISODET’s?
A.

I can confirm that changes to the process of purchasing local purchase orders are due to the drawdown of BFG and will ensure that all tax-free forms are accounted for upon closure. Whilst you believe that this is at odds with my assurance that firm base will remain, I would argue that I also always state that “it will just be delivered differently”! I would also gently remind you that the provision of the MwSt benefits is not an entitlement, but rather something BFG offers to make your life easier.

In this case, we have gone from 4 forms valid for 6 month each, to 5 forms valid for one month each – this will drive down the number of valid forms in existence.  I have also personally ensured that if a form is about to run out of date, if you bring it back into the MwSt office, then it can be renewed for free. I appreciate that this may be slightly less convenient than the previous process however, I feel that this is a necessary step to ensure that MwSt offices are able to prepare for closure whilst maintaining service provision to the population. As I said above, you are getting the service, it’s just in a different way – for good reasons.  

The future management of the tax-free system is a matter for the Germany Enabling Office (GEO) when it is established later this year – I can assure you that there will be a provision but we are yet to determine how.

Q.After the close down of Medical facilities/Pharmacy at Sennelager, will there be transport available for entitled personnel to the Bielefeld Medical Centre for Med appointments and collection of repeat medical prescriptions.
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A.

I can confirm that the Admin Transport Service (ATS) transport will run between Sennelager and Bielefeld and you will need to call 05254 982 2960 to book transport as required.

I personally visited the Transport Support Unit today and can confirm that transport is and will be available.  Interestingly, the uptake to date from the closure of Mansergh Barracks Medical Centre has been very low, but despite this, we will continue to offer this service to ensure you can access Healthcare.  My Comms team will push out any additional information closer to the closure of Sennelager Medical Centre.

Q.Would it be possible to organise a prescription drop-off service - maybe once or twice a week - to a designated collection point at Mansergh Barracks, please?
At the moment the nearest pharmacy is at Bielefeld.
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A.

This is an option that BFG Health Service previously explored, but it is considered an unsafe practice as lost, uncollected or incorrectly collected prescriptions can result in individuals with wrong medications or leakage of sensitive information. Therefore, there are three options available to help individuals collect their medication:

Send a representative: Please ensure you let the pharmacy know in advance a representative will collect your medication for you. The representative should be aware that they may be asked to show their ID.

Visit another dispensary: There is no restriction on this, but you do need to let the pharmacy know so we can ensure that the prescription is there ready for you.

Call the Central Pharmacy: In the event that you find yourself running out of medication and unable to collect as normal, please call the Central Pharmacy to discuss your options. We appreciate that unforeseen circumstances can arise, and BFG Health Service will not see any patient going without essential medication. Unfortunately they do not have the capacity to deal with repeated requests to supply medications outside of usual procedures.

Q.Following the DIO review completion anticipated in 09-2018 I’m curious for the updated response promised to a question posed in 06-2018 re: march out standards particularly during drawdown.
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We leave Losekestr. in Sennelager 07-2019 and advice is still unclear about the requirements. I ask to prevent wasting money on the MQCS or time and effort achieving a ‘pristine clean’ with 3 young children if in actuality ‘hygienically clean’ is what is required and perhaps it’s not filtered through yet.
A.

DIO will implement three march-out standards, the one applied to you will depend on what property you are in and what the standard of your SFA is at the time of your pre-move out advisory visit. The different types of properties are those categorised as having a follow on use as part of the Future Defence Presence, a hiring or a Federal property. It is important to follow advice from your Housing Estate Manager who will let you know exactly what is required. The standard for pet cleaning is the same regardless of which type of SFA you live in.

Please contact your local housing office if you have any further questions or require specific advice.

Q.After the close down of Medical facilities/ Pharmacy, at Sennelager, will there be transport available for entitled personnel to the Bielefeld Medical Centre for Med appointments and collection of repeat medical prescriptions?
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A.

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.

Q.I live on a small patch of houses, rented from German landlords (as opposed to Federal housing) in Bad Lippspringe. I am now the last person in my street and all the houses, bar none, have undergone serious renovation on handover. This includes, in all cases, the carpets being ripped up and the walls painted. If we are under no obligation to repaint or re-carpet these houses, must we be still be held accountable for their condition on march out, or can the rules be relaxed?
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A.

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.

Q.Considering the EU notice to stakeholders issued 19/1/18 on the Field of Road Transport. It states that UK driving licences will no longer be recognised by Union members after withdrawal, but is regulated by member states. What if anything do we have in BFG to alleviate any possible issues?
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A.

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.

Q.Please could we have any further information around how Brexit may affect BFG personnel after March 2019? In particular how does Kindergeld affect Forces families?
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A.

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.