House of Lords Library

Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations

Published Wednesday, January 22, 2020

This House of Lords Library Briefing contains a selection of material relevant for the forthcoming question for short debate on Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations on 27 January 2020.

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  • The Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations (RFCAs) give advice and assistance to the Defence Council, and to the army, navy and air force on matters that concern reserves and cadets. They are central government bodies with crown status. RFCA business is publicly funded and delivered regionally.
  • The RFCA is comprised of 13 individual associations which cover the UK. The associations are largely comparable with regional government boundaries.
  • A council of RFCAs (CRFCA) has been constituted by the 13 individual RFCAs in order to provide central coordination.
  • The RFCAs each have their own scheme of association, drawn up by the Defence Council, under the provisions of the Reserve Forces Act 1996. The schemes last for five years, after which re-constitution must take place.
  • Each association is responsible for the wellbeing of the region’s reserve forces and cadets, promoting the interests of the armed forces, and building relationships with the local community and employees. They work with the chains of command of the three services to deliver support to the reserves and cadets.
  • RFCAs maintain and support reserve training centres, cadet centres and training areas within which the reserves and cadets of all three services can conduct their activities.
  • The RFCA is required to report annually to Parliament on the state of the UK’s reserve forces. The RFCA’s external scrutiny team was established to produce the annual report into the condition of the reserves and the delivery of the Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) programme. The RFCA also reports annually to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the health of the cadet movement.
  • In January 2019, the MoD launched a review of the RFCAs. The review was set up to look into: the functions carried out by the RFCAs; their contribution to defence outputs; their efficiency; and potential new tasks the RFCAs may be best placed to deliver on behalf of defence. It was expected to last approximately nine months.
  • The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the government and the armed forces in return for the sacrifices they make. Businesses and charitable and public sector organisations of all sizes that wish to support the armed forces community can sign the covenant. Over 4,000 organisations are signatories. The network of regional RFCAs works with businesses and other organisations to ensure their covenant pledges are suitably tailored to meet the needs of the signatory and defence.

Lords Library notes LLN-2020-0023

Author: Sarah Tudor

Topic: Armed forces

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