It's not just the unseasonably warm weather putting us in celebratory mood; the announcement that further increases to the personal contribution to Home to Duty Travel (HDT) allowance have been shelved are great news for those of us living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) or hirings some distance from our duty station. At a time when your salaries continue to decline in real terms and we hear that filling a car is costing over £100 this is truly welcome. Even if you currently live within walking distance of work this is positive news for everyone. Less availability of SFA will mean that we'll all have to accept housing further away from work at some point, especially as more units come back from Germany.
AFF highlighted that families allocated SFA further away face the inconvenience of longer commuting times, paying more for the privilege and probably having to buy a second car. It seems that common sense has won. The decision to 'buy back' the estimated savings to allow the personal contribution to HDT to remain capped at 3 miles is eminently sensible. So sensible it almost has me wondering if it's 1 April. Joking aside this resolution demonstrates astute reasoning from senior command. It reconfirms my faith that there are some good guys in the MOD, whom despite facing acute financial pressure, have understood the harm raising HDT contributions would cause and have acted to correct it.
The sunny weather couldn't be predicted, but the timing of this upbeat news, a couple of days after the budget and realisation that we're going to be increasingly skint, is another masterstroke of spinning genius. I may still bristle that the redundancy and housing 'pause' announcements were sneaked out during the height of the 'News International' scandal but I am warmed by this glimmer of sun at a time when I'm counting my pennies - a genuine good news story and a win for common sense and families.