To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2013, page 67, what progress has been made on the review of public transport issues affecting service families living in remote areas; and if he will make a statement.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
15 September 2014
Since the Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2012, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has systematically been reviewing the public transport arrangements in place for all locations where there is Defence housing. Where the location of Service family accommodation does not have reasonable access to essential amenities, including public transport, this is reflected in reduced charges for accommodation. Furthermore, when setting charges in the future we plan to look in more detail at the location of Service accommodation based on the Department for Transport’s (DfT) accessibility indicators, which also consider travel time to health and education services and food stores, and also modern requirements such broadband speed.
Separately, the MOD is working with DfT and The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to improve transport links at Defence sites. Work has been undertaken to highlight the importance of considering the needs of service personnel and their families in setting local transport provisions in line with the commitment that those who serve in the Armed Forces and their families should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public or commercial services.
In 2013, DfT Engagement Teams who are responsible for engaging with local authorities on transport matters in England met with authorities to highlight the importance of supporting the Armed Forces Covenant. Engagement meetings with local authorities across England were used to raise awareness of the many armed forces establishments located in isolated areas and the lack of choice military families have over the location of their Service accommodation which means that some families face transport difficulties and also struggle to maintain employment as a result of their mobility.
Similarly, DCLG published advice on provisions for locations where there is Defence housing in their Guidance on Travel Plans, Transport Assessments and Statements in decision-taking. This publication contains guidance for local authorities on the special consideration owed to service personnel and their families particularly in setting local transport strategies and plans that should consider the particular requirements of any Armed Forces families in their area.
The MOD will continue to monitor the issue through the Families Federations.