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.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.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.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.

Q.With the intention of keeping approximately 750 serving personal plus families here in Germany. Will there also be a Naafi shop for those staying to use?
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A.

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.

Q.There has not been a need for one in the past, why now when we are leaving BFG next year? Why not on items such as heating?
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Last year, in the run up to Winter we monitored indoor temperatures in Elec Pl. The temperature was often down to 3 or 4 degrees with little to no heating. I staffed the request for improvements and we received nothing. I came into Rochdale Bks this morning and the GGS chap complained about the current installation of a multi thousand euro digital display at the front gate. There has not been a need for one in the past, why now when we are leaving BFG next year? Why not on items such as heating?
A.

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.

Q.What is the policy for renewing dependant ID Cards?
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All the paperwork is correct and in place for my families ID Cards to be renewed, but the ID Card office has refused, as they state they can only be renewed 2 weeks before expiry. Which in this case is during Easter block leave, when we are away. It seems ridiculous if the paperwork is correctly completed it is not possible to renew the ID Cards, even the passport office allow you to renew 9 months in advance.
A.

I can confirm that an application form which has been correctly authorised and has the correct supporting documents should be processed without time restrictions. Staff working in the Pass Office have been informed of this.

I understand that your application has now been process by the Paderborn Pass Office, but I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Q.I work with two retired MOD Veterans who eat at JB's regularly and pay the same price as civilians.
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Why can veterans not get the same benefits as serving personnel considering the amount of veterans who are employed within BFG who are still dedicated to the services, I think it would be a nice gesture and a small sign of gratitude to their service.
A.

We are governed by central Catering, Retail and Leisure Management policy which set out clear and specific rules for entitled and non-entitled personnel. These state that the only people that pay discounted or 'entitled' rates are Serving Personnel or UKBCs on detached duty away from their duty station.

Therefore, although I agree this would be a nice gesture, there is no scope within the rules for BFG to take this forward.