Every 5 years the RFCA is formally reviewed and recommendations are put forward to improve delivery of our services to Reserves and Cadets.
Since their inception in 1908, the RFCA have played a vital role in connecting Defence with the nation through three core strands: management of the Reserve and Cadet Estate; helping businesses support their Reservist employees; and providing administrative and logistical support to Cadets. The RFCAs were last reviewed in 2014, with the findings included in the Paterson review.
The terms of reference of the review outline that despite being only legally bound to reconstitute the RFCA schemes of association, a wider-ranging review would be conducted in order to:
- Stay aligned with Cabinet Office best practice for governance of classified ALB.
- Identify Defence activities that could be done more cost effectively by the RFCA.
- Ensure RFCAs are delivering value for money and are fit for purpose; delivering outputs in accordance with customer Service Level Agreements.
The review was conducted by an independent MOD civil servant, Dr Robert Sullivan, in line with Cabinet Office “Guidance on Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies”.
The new review includes eighty recommendations but notes how the thirteen RFCAs go above and beyond and ensure that their roles remain relevant and significant in contributing to Defence objectives, as well as building links in the community.
In particular, the review highlights the Cadet Expansion Programme, which has increased the number of cadets, and the Employer Recognition Scheme, which rewards employers for their support to Reservist employees, which are both delivered by the RFCAs.
The review finds the speed and agility with which the RFCA can act and respond to evolving needs of the Volunteer Estate is a regular point of praise. There is an appetite for the RFCA to have an ongoing, and increased, involvement in maintaining and developing the Volunteer estate.
The RFCA are currently one of twelve unclassified Arms Length Bodies of the Ministry of Defence and require modernisation in terms of corporate governance and consistency of service provision across the organisation. The review recommends moving the delivery model to a single executive non-departmental public body (NDPB).
It is understood that whilst the report has recommended the formation of a single NDPB and the adoption of the Cabinet Office recruitment and selection process for regional boards as well as its national board, the detailed design and implementation of the operating model that will continue to enable regional delivery and protect the volunteer membership networks whilst providing the regulatory governance required has yet to be agreed. We are now engaging with the MOD regarding how that model could look.
A lot of detailed work needs to be done to deliver the implementation of the recommendations. The Ministry of Defence will now embark on a cross-government programme with the RFCAs to develop the best way to regularise the thirteen RFCAs to drive efficiencies and provide enhanced consistency across the regions for our Armed Forces.