FSB: From the frontline to civvy street – how the Armed Forces can strengthen economic recovery

Helping ex-services personnel to become self-employed will strengthen the recovery, says an FSB and Heropreneurs report

The Government should work with businesses to help people who leave the Armed Forces to set up their own business, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the military charity Heropreneurs

With 2.5 million people in the UK currently unemployed and 75,000 people set to leave the Armed Forces within the next two years, the FSB and Heropreneurs are calling on the Government to work with the business community to ensure that its resettlement programme – the way in which it helps get service personnel back into the civilian world – is fit for purpose and to ensure that all service leavers are given adequate help to find a job or to set up their own business.

Small businesses want to employ but do not have the resources available to do so in the numbers needed to help drive down unemployment. So, it is more important than ever that, in order to strengthen economic recovery, starting-up in business becomes an option that is promoted to all people, including service leavers.

In a new report, ‘From the frontline to civvy street’, the FSB and Heropreneurs have made a series of recommendations to help Government give service leavers the best chance of finding a career or starting-up their own business when they leave the Armed Forces.

The FSB and Heropreneurs believe that all leavers who have completed at least basic training should be treated equally and given the same level of help. And, with a number of organisations that provide help – be that government departments, charities or social enterprises – an overarching body be created to help the service leaver understand all the options open to them.

The FSB and Heropreneurs recommends:

· Establishing a ‘Discharge Commission’ to co-ordinate all existing support for service leavers to help find a career or set up their own business
· Ensuring that resettlement becomes a part of everyday life and is something that every person has to discuss and that support is tailored to the individual and not a one-size-fits-all approach
· Helping service leavers to translate military experience and qualifications into a format that future employers or business backers understand
· Ensuring that the Ministry of Defence works with outside recruitment consultancies, charities and business organisations to place service personnel in suitable jobs or helps them to start-up on their own in business
· Creating a life-long entrepreneurial culture within the forces which begins at cadet stage and carries through to service, so starting up a business is seen as a viable option

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The Government is looking to the private sector to further strengthen the economic recovery, but with business confidence fragile and almost 20 people chasing each job vacancy, it must promote self-employment as a viable option to all.

“It is a concern that self-employment is not promoted fully to those people that leave the Armed Forces and we urge the Government to look at the reasons why. It is more important than ever that people are given the skills and the opportunity to start their own businesses.”

Richard Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Heropeneurs, said:

“It is important to understand that this joint report is not pointing a finger at any past or the current Government. The issues are too important for that and we are where we are. After all, the MoD cannot do everything, nor should it. It is about everyone taking responsibility, the more that we as a society do, the less we will need the Government to do.

“There is an enormous opportunity to improve conditions for people in society if we take much more of a community approach to problem solving. Many of the qualities that a person needs to do well in the Armed Forces are the same qualities needed to become a successful entrepreneur and so it is vital that starting-up a business becomes a viable option for those leaving the Forces.

“By ensuring that resettlement becomes a part of everyday life – and not just something that is thought about as a person is about to leave – it will mean that personnel think more clearly about their post-services future and will better prepare them for life outside the forces.”


Notes to Editors

The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with over 205,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk

Heropreneurs is a charity which provides a package of funding and business support to help those leaving the armed forces to get a good business idea off the ground. Beneficiaries are offered up to £20,000 via a philanthropic venture capital model (debt for equity), pro bono legal and financial advice, mentoring, free annual membership of the FSB, and an introduction to second stage investors.

The report was launched to Ministers at an event in the House of Lords on Tuesday 14 June 2011.

It has been reported that up to 75,000 people will leave the armed forces as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The full report ‘From the frontline to civvy street’ is available on the FSB website at www.fsb.org.uk.

Currently, people that leave the Armed Forces are given resettlement help based on their length of service. This can start up to two years before a person leaves. Often, personnel will not know what type of work they want to do when they leave and so help often focuses on getting them any job rather than a rewarding career, and currently has limited support to help them to set up their own business. Unlike previous years, men and women leaving the armed forces today will be joining nearly 2.5 million other unemployed people in the search for a civilian job. Most of this number is very highly qualified and skilled but for many the transition from life in the military to life as a civilian will be difficult as it has been for those who have already left.


Federation of Small Businesses:

Andrew Cave, Chief Spokesperson: 07917 628991

Sara Lee: 020 7592 8113/ 07595 067068 sara.lee@fsb.org.uk
Sophie Kummer: 020 7592 8128/ 07917 628998 sophie.kummer@fsb.org.uk
Prue Watson: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695 prue.watson@fsb.org.uk