Army families can avoid excess mortgage fees if they own a home and are forced to rent it out due to postings
Can you claim Marriage Allowance?
Brexit and your overseas posting
Changes to lettings legislation
Car insurers offer better deal for Armed Forces personnel
Government help to buy ISA
Entitlement to claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) for spouses and adult children of Service personnel
Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015
Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) – frequently asked questions
Mortgage barriers for Armed Forces families
MOD Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance
Financial top tips for Service personnel
Sure Start Maternity Grant - Overseas Applications
Moving back to the UK? Think about your finances
Army families can avoid excess mortgage fees if they own a home and are forced to rent it out due to postings
AFF is thrilled that after a great deal of campaigning, Army families posted within the UK or overseas are now able to rent out their homes without facing higher mortgage charges or having to change their existing mortgage deal, saving them time and money. Read more.
Previously, many Army families who rented out their homes during a posting had to change their residential mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage, often incurring new product charges and an increased rate of interest.
The Government recognises that Service personnel have a right to own a home and plan for the future. In respect of mortgage types, Service personnel, unlike civilians, do not need to have a buy-to-let mortgage. In 2016 it was announced that 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies would allow Service families to rent out their home in the UK if they could not live in it. Your evidence is vitally important, so, if you are experiencing any difficulties securing or changing a mortgage as a result of Service life, contact our Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist Laura Lewin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does the non-serving partner in your family earn less than £11,000? If so, you could pay less tax by applying for the Marriage Allowance. Read more.
The allowance lets couples transfer a proportion of the amount you can earn tax-free each tax year between you. To apply you must be married or in a civil partnership, one of you must earn less than £11,000 and the other must be a basic rate taxpayer.
Across the UK, only 10 per cent of eligible couples claim the allowance. You can register at any point in the tax year to gain full benefits. To apply, visit www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance.
Are you posted overseas and have concerns about Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and exchange rates as a result of Brexit? Read more.
The purpose of the allowance is to contribute to the difference between the cost of living in the UK and your overseas location. The Defence Business Service (DBS) and the Pay Colonel’s staff calculate LOA rates during overseas visits; the rates are regularly reviewed, meaning you should not be out of pocket because of your posting.
DBS track the value of the pound to see if a change to the Forces Fixed Rate (FFR) of exchange is necessary; any changes are published on the first of each month. If the FFR is reduced, the LOA you receive will increase, as more Sterling is needed to buy the same goods than before. However, if the FFR is increased, the LOA you receive will reduce, as less Sterling is needed to buy the same goods than before.
For further queries about allowances or money, contact our Specialist Laura Lewin at email@example.com.
Do you own a property and let it out? If so, changes to tax regulations were implemented in April that may affect you. Read more.
ANYONE who owns a property and rents it out has to pay tax on the rental income. However, you can currently deduct certain costs before working out your tax bill, such as agent’s fees, maintenance and repairs.
Under previous regulations, you could also include the interest portion of your mortgage payment, but new rules mean you will no longer be able to offset this.
Tax will be applied to the rental income you receive, rather than what is left after your mortgage has been paid. The changes will be implemented gradually to come into full force by 2020/21.
AFF is concerned that this will have serious implications for some of you, wiping out profit you may rely on or, more worryingly, leaving some of you in debt.
Many of you own a home and either have to move into SFA on posting to be able to stay together as a family, or have bought a property ready for when your soldier leaves the Army.
“This new rule is likely to have a big impact on us," said Army family member Gary Firth. "Offsetting the mortgage interest currently keeps us below the tax threshold. “We make no profit at all from the rent we charge. We’re currently posted 150 miles away, so there’s no way we can live in the house unless we choose ‘married unaccompanied’. "If we sell, we have to start again on the housing market in a few years. Surely this rule goes against the MOD encouraging soldiers to plan for the future.”
AFF feels that Army families will be unfairly disadvantaged by the new rules.
Chief Exec Sara Baade said: “Some families are ‘accidental landlords’ due to the nature of Service life and these changes would result in an unfair penalty on families who need to move to meet Service needs.”
We are lobbying for an exemption for Service families who own only one property and would like to hear if you will be affected. Contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFF is delighted with the news of an agreement from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA). After much campaigning, Armed Forces families will now keep their no claims bonus for up to three years and save on cancellation fees if you need to cancel at short notice due to an overseas posting. Read more.
Previously, the maximum any insurance company would honour no claims discounts for families posted overseas was two years, meaning families could lose out on discounts that most people take for granted.
Losing their no claims discount left soldiers’ families posted overseas severely out of pocket, paying the full motor insurance as though they had just started driving.
AFF highlighted this disadvantage and it was discussed recently at Downing Street, when financial services representatives, and ministers, addressed a range of measures to help recognise the specific needs of Armed Forces families.
A commitment has now been made by the majority of insurance companies that will give flexibility and make insurance fairer for Armed Forces personnel posted overseas.
If you are likely to be posted abroad or know someone who is, you should…
- Check your insurance policy
- Contact your insurer or broker directly
- Provide your insurer with a letter from your soldier’s commanding officer
For further information, and to find out which insurance companies have signed up to the agreement, click here.
If you are having difficulties with car insurance following an overseas posting, please contact Laura at etam@.aff.org.uk.
Whether or not a member of the Armed Forces lives at home with their parents is a matter for the Local Authority (LA) to decide based on all the available facts. Read more.
It may be that someone living in SLA is treated as living at home but equally SLA can be treated as a permanent home.
Adult children judged by the LA to be living permanently in SLA are not treated as living at home with their parents during periods of deployment.
If the LA decides that the permanent home is with the parents, and the parents receive Housing Benefit (HB), then they would be subject to a non-dependent deduction which could extinguish HB entitlement.
This is because all working non-dependants are expected to contribute to their living expenses and there is no exception for Armed Forces personnel unless they are deployed on operations.
AFF has investigated the changes to Housing Benefit Regulations and whether Army families face any disadvantage in comparison to other families.
Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to determine the overall impact on Army families and state our view on this issue.
We therefore encourage families affected by the changes, or with their own view on this matter, to contact us at email@example.com
The points which AFF has considered in this argument:
- The publicised amendments for families of serving personnel assist only a small minority of families. These could include Reservists or those who choose not to live in Single Living Accommodation (SLA) because their parents live nearby. This was poorly communicated to families.
- All parents have difficult choices to make about downsizing once their children move away from home. This applies should you own your own home, rent privately or claim Housing Benefit.
- Families might face financial difficulties if Housing Benefit is reduced due to under occupancy and a room is retained for their soldier.
- Should serving personnel contribute to the family finances, then they would effectively be paying twice for accommodation.
- Social housing is scarce. Where families are able to downsize to smaller properties, this could increase the availability of suitable social housing for those families leaving the Services.
- Whilst there has been considerable upgrading of SLA, some serving personnel do not have a room of their own and instead share multiple occupancy rooms. It could be unfair to judge this accommodation as a permanent home. DIO recognise there is still much work to do to upgrade SLA.
- Special consideration might be required for families until personnel have successfully completed Phase 1 and 2 Training.
- There is clearly disparity across areas, as local authorities have the final decision whether a soldier’s home is classed as with their parents or in SLA.
Update Feb 2014: AFF has been made aware that some Army families have been successful in overturning the initial decision of local authorities relating to Housing Benefit at tribunal.
This has resulted in Armed Forces personnel being included in the calculation of the number of persons occupying the property. Click here to read about one Army family’s success with an appeal.
Good news for first time buyers: you could save up to £200 a month towards your first home with a Help to Buy ISA, and what’s more, the government will boost your savings by an extra 25 per cent - that’s an additional £50 bonus for every £200 you save. Read more.
If you save £12,000, the government will boost your total savings to £15,000 when you purchase your first home, and you can earn up to four per cent tax-free.
Providers are free to set their own interest rates so, as with any savings product, it’s a good idea to compare and shop around for the best option for you.
Find out more about the scheme and which providers you can apply to for your Help to Buy ISA online, by telephone or in branch.
For more information, click here.
Previous residence rules exempted Service spouses and adult children returning from overseas to claiming Jobseekers allowance for three-month residence requirement. Read more.
However, after AFF identified that Army families returning from overseas assignments would be disadvantaged by that requirement, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that spouses and children (up to 21 years) returning to the UK after accompanying Service personnel on overseas assignments, will be exempted from the three- month residence rule.
AFF can confirm that anyone returning to the UK and wanting to apply for income-based JSA will still be asked to answer a series of questions about their circumstances during a ‘Habitual Residence Test’ interview – a test to ensure all JSA claims are legitimate. However, as a military dependant, you can apply as soon as you return to the UK.
For more information about the changes and the Habitual Residency test, click here.
Did you know that, since the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015 (AFPS 15) was introduced, it now takes up to 30 working days from the day of your soldier’s discharge for all pension and compensation payments to be processed? Read more.
If your soldier has recently discharged from the Army you may be concerned that their pension, lump sums and any compensation payments are not being processed in the time you expected; this could impact on rent deposits or other costs associated with your move to civvy-street.
All Service personnel who are members of an Armed Forces pension scheme, and who will be serving beyond April 2015, will be automatically transferred to AFPS 15 unless they qualify for transitional protection i.e. were within ten years of the normal pension age for their respective scheme on 1 April 2012.
For more information on AFPS 15, click here.
Tell AFF your view
Is the new increased 30-day payment process affecting you? Do you feel the timeframe should be returned to the 10-20 days it previously was? AFF wants to hear your views and experiences - contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you hoping to use the FHTB scheme to purchase your own home on civvy street? Since the scheme launched in April 2014, over 400 people have used it to do just that.
AFF has received lots of questions from families about FHTB. To help you, we have compiled a list of answers to these frequently asked questions.
If you have any questions, comments or further suggestions then please contact AFF Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist, at email@example.com or 0775 504 5955.
Q. Is my soldier eligible for FHTB? Click here to show answer
Answer: : According to the Defence Internal Notice (DIN), to be eligible for the scheme personnel must fulfil the following criteria:
- Be in Regular service
- Have served for two years and be on the trained strength, whichever is the later
- Have at least six months left to serve at the time of application
- In the last twelve months, not have owned a property within 50 miles of the proposed house purchase
Q. We want to use FHTB. Is there a list of mortgage lenders that accept the scheme? Click here to show answer
Answer: : The MOD has stated that mortgage companies were expected to be ready to accept mortgage applications for those with a FHTB loan from 1 April 2014 when the scheme went live. The MOD has confirmed that most mainstream mortgage providers are supporting Service personnel by offering mortgage products in conjunction with a FHTB advance. However, they will not release this list of lenders as they don’t want to be seen to be endorsing particular companies. AFF has asked them to reconsider as the Government Help to Buy Scheme does list which lenders have signed up to the scheme. In the meantime, AFF has confirmed the following lenders:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Newcastle Building Society
Santander is one exception to this; they are not accepting FHTB as a source of deposit.
You should always check with potential mortgage providers before applying for a mortgage and declare their intent to use FHTB upfront. This includes, if using a mortgage broker, ensuring that your broker declares use of FHTB to potential lenders and confirms that they accept the scheme. In instances where there is a lack of certainty, you may wish to confirm all of this in writing with their mortgage provider.
If you come across a lender who says they are unaware of the FHTB scheme then please either let AFF know or email the FHTB team direct at perstrg-NEM-Mailbox@mod.uk
The MOD can then work with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to identify why the scheme is not being taken up.
Q. Up to how much can we borrow with FHTB? Click here to show answer
Answer: : Eligible personnel may borrow up to 50% of their annual salary (including specialist pay), capped at £25,000 for higher earners.
The loan will normally be repaid over a period of up to ten years, and the monthly repayment amount will be calculated on this basis. The loan limit has been set to ensure personnel do not borrow beyond their ability to repay.
Remember, approval for a FHTB loan is no guarantee that a mortgage lender will advance a mortgage.
Q. How far in advance can you apply for the scheme? Click here to show answer
Answer: : You have to be eligible (as per the DIN) and to have found the property you wish to purchase. You must have spoken to a mortgage provider and obtained the services of a legal representative. You are then in a position to apply for FHTB through JPA (or, in exceptional circumstances via a JPA Form E035 if you have no access to DII).
All applications must be received by the FHTB Section a minimum of sixweeks before the expected purchase completion date to ensure that payment deadlines are met. However, ensure you speak to your mortgage provider and solicitor at the earliest opportunity to make them aware of your intent to use a FHTB loan, even if you have not yet applied.
Q. Are you no longer entitled to Single Living Accommodation (SLA) if you have used the scheme? Click here to show answer
Answer: : If you purchase a property using a FHTB loan and the property is within 50 miles of the current assignment location (or next assignment, if already confirmed) then you will not be entitled to either SLA or SFA at that location.
But, if the purchased property is located more than 50 miles from your current or next assignment location then you will be entitled to use SLA but not SFA.
If subsequent assignments are more than 50 miles from the purchased home, you will again be entitled to SLA and SFA.
However, if any subsequent assignment is within 50 miles of the purchased property, entitlement to SLA and SFA will again be relinquished and you will be expected to live in your own property.
Q. Will we be able to move back into SFA if my soldier gets posted away from the house we intend to purchase using the FHTB loan? Click here to show answer
Answer: : You can move back into SFA but only on a posting and only if you are posted more than 50 miles from the house purchased.
Q. Do I have to buy near my duty station? Click here to show answer
Answer: : No, you can buy anywhere in the UK (or the Republic of Ireland if you were recruited there or have Irish parentage). If the purchased property is located more than 50 miles from your current or next assignment location then you will be entitled to use SLA but not SFA.
Q. Do I have to live in the purchased property or can I rent it out? Click here to show answer
Answer: : The DIN states: If, after purchasing your home, you are posted more than 50 miles from where the property is located you can let your property and will be entitled to either SLA or SFA, depending on your needs (as long as this is not for a reassignment you were already aware of and that starts within six months of obtaining the loan). If you choose to rent out your property then, as with Long Service Advance of Pay (LSAP), interest (at standard HMRC rates, currently 4%) will be applied to the loan.
However, if a subsequent assignment places you within 50 miles of the property you will be required to live in it; you will also need to speak to both your Commanding Officer and your mortgage lender to get their approval to let a property.
Q. I already own my own home. Can I use FHTB to make improvements, such as an extension, to my property? Click here to show answer
Answer: : You can only use FHTB to extend/modify an existing property if there is a change in family circumstance such as if you have had another child or if there are medical reasons why your current home is unsuitable.
Q. Is there a list of mortgage lenders who are more understanding of the Armed Forces lifestyle? Click here to show answer
Answer: : Most high-street lenders should understand Armed Forces life (overseas postings, BFPO addresses etc.)
However, if you encounter any problems then please let AFF know. AFF urges families looking to get a mortgage to look at the MOD’s Guidance for Service Personnel Applying for a Mortgage: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/265796/12122013Guidance_mortgage2013.pdf
Q. I am looking for some advice and clarification on married unaccompanied allowances. We are thinking of purchasing our first home. We have young children and my soldier will turn 37 in September. The JSP  is a nightmare to try and understand as to what allowances he may be entitled to claim. He has spoken to his Admin Clerks but is getting different answers. We want to buy near my family, about 200 miles away from where my soldier is based. Also, he has only four years left to serve. Click here to show answer
Answer: : Your soldier should be eligible for Get You Home (Travel) allowance, the Army Over 37 Provision and the Forces Help to Buy Scheme (up until his last six months of service). Your soldier's RAO department will help them with this.
Q. My soldier is medically downgraded but not on a permanent basis. Is he still eligible for FHTB? Click here to show answer
Answer: : He would be eligible if he is Medically Fully Deployable (MFD) or Medically Limited Deployable (MLD) when he applied for FHTB, or has been assessed by his Unit Medical Officer (UMO) as likely to be MFD or MLD within six months of the application.
It will be your soldier’s Unit Admin or Unit Medical Officer who will make the call when the Application for FHTB is processed – they will look at his Medical Status on JPA. The section in JSP 464 about how you apply for FHTB on JPA covers medical issues:
For soldiers who are graded MLD Temp or MND (Medically Non-Deployable), the UMO will need to certify that, in their opinion, the soldier will be in a permanently deployable medical category within six months of the date of the UMO assessment.
Irrespective of their medical category at the time of the FHTB application, the soldier will have to acknowledge on the application form that, should they later have a medical condition that leads to invaliding or discharge from the Service, then recovery of the FHTB loan may only be waived following submission of casework to the PACCC.
Any other outcome of the UMO assessment will result in the application being rejected and returned to the applicant through the Unit HR. Where applicants in this situation are still able to obtain a mortgage offer in principle, an exceptional case may be made through their CO and SPVA to PACCC (who may consult with CDP (Service and Veteran’s Welfare)). A FHTB loan is only likely to be granted in these exceptional cases where it would be able to be recovered from terminal benefits due to the applicant.
Q. I am a Foreign & Commonwealth soldier. Can I access the FHTB scheme? Click here to show answer
Answer: : Foreign & Commonwealth serving personnel are eligible for the Forces Help to Buy Scheme as long as:
- The house you wish to purchase is in the UK (for those recruited in the Republic of Ireland or of that parentage, then the RoI)
- They meet all other criteria of the scheme (which they can find in JSP 464 Chapter 12)
Q. Can I use FHTB to purchase a property outside of the UK? Click here to show answer
Answer: : No. The qualifying criteria of the scheme currently states: (Para 1214e) The property to be purchased is situated in the UK or, for those recruited in the Republic of Ireland, or of Republic of Ireland parentage, the Republic of Ireland.
In addition: (Para 1214f) The property to be purchased is one on which a mortgage lender (authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)) is willing to advance a mortgage. This applies even if a mortgage is not required; in these circumstances, a FHTB application would need to be supported by a valuation report that demonstrates a mortgage would be available on the property.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has confirmed that the FCA does not have a remit to regulate mortgages arranged outside of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). A mortgage on a property outside of the UK would therefore not be regulated by the FCA. This criterion is in order to ensure that FHTB funds are used for mortgages which are subject to FCA rules and regulations which safeguard both the FHTB money provided by the MOD and the individual SP who has a mortgage agreement with a reputable and legally regulated provider.
Q. We are currently in our own house and want to use FHTB to move somewhere bigger. My RAO told us that, as the house we want is within 50 miles of our current one, we can’t use FHTB. Click here to show answer
Answer: : We have been approached by a number of families who are in your situation and so AFF contacted the FHTB team for more clarification on the 50 mile rule. They said: "The aim of the FHTB Scheme is to get SP on the property ladder to help them stay on the property ladder (for example if they GENUINELY need a bigger or differing style house to accommodate a growing family or medical issue). The scheme is NOT to help SP progress up the property ladder. It is a benefit and not an entitlement and would not be endorsed by the taxpayer otherwise. The scheme needs to have strict eligibility criteria."
If you can prove that you need to move for very specific reasons then the Forces Help to Buy Team would review you case.
Q. Will my Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) eligibility will be affected by a FHTB loan? Click here to show answer
Answer: : The Desk Officer for FHTB Policy provided the following response:
One of the key principles of CEA is that the claimant must be accompanied by their family at their duty station. However, the rules of the FHTB policy state that: “The property to be purchased is intended for the applicant’s own immediate occupation or that of their immediate family. In the case of single personnel who will be unable to occupy the property during the working week, occupation at weekends and/or during periods of leave is deemed to qualify.” In practice, this means that if a SP purchases a property which is greater than 50 miles away from the assignment when they received the FHTB advance, their spouse would be required to live in it and they would probably live in SLA and weekly commute. Therefore, they would not be accompanied, so not be entitled to claim CEA. The property would be classed as a Selected Place of Residence (SPR).
If the FHTB property is more than 50 miles away from their next (second FHTB) assignment, a SP’s entitlement to SFA is reinstated. They can therefore move into SFA, and rent the FHTB property out (with the permission of their mortgage lender and CO). If a SP occupies SFA when they are unable to occupy the FHTB property and is likely to move again in the next four years, they may be entitled to claim CEA.
If SP are living in the FHTB property and commuting daily (the FHTB property is classed as a Residence at Work Address (RWA)), they are accompanied and can apply for CEA. However, entitlement would also be dependent upon the SP’s Career Manager stating that they were likely to move again within 4 years.
So, in a nutshell, if subsequent assignments are more than 50 miles from the purchased property and SFA is taken up, CEA will not be affected.
Q. How can we contact the FHTB team? We need to get information from them quickly. Click here to show answer
Answer: : There is a direct fax to FHTB – 02393702506 Try emailing perstrg-NEM-Mailbox@mod.uk - it is best to entitle message something like “urgent call back please needed for immediate completion of a house sale.”
Also try the JPAC enquiry centre on: 94560 3600 Option 4, or alternatively, 0141 224 3600, option 4.
Q. My mortgage provider has asked for a PIN as a matter of urgency. What is a PIN and how do I get this? Click here to show answer
Answer: : The PIN is a Personal Information Note; this is the proof of FHTB deposit. To get your PIN you need to contact the FHTB team on 0141 224 3600, option 4.
Q. Will the FHTB loan make an imprint on our credit score? Click here to show answer
Answer: : FHTB is not credit scored as it is a non-taxable employee benefit in kind. It therefore won’t make an imprint on your credit score.
Q. We have bought our own home using the FHTB scheme, however, we are serving in Europe and we cannot afford the removals (over £3000) as there is no assignment/posting order in place. Why can’t we have future removals brought forward to now to enable me to move? Click here to show answer
Answer: : An assignment order is the authority for removals. Sadly, without an assignment order there is no eligibility for removals at public expense.
AFF is aware that this is a huge issue as is BFG and PS10. We have submitted a brief for Early Removals to help families using FHTB to get on the property ladder; we are still waiting for a resolution on this issue.
In the meantime, we urge all families looking to utilise the FHTB scheme to ensure you can cover the cost of removals back to the UK when you are budgeting for the house purchase. Your soldier may be able to apply for Early Mover Status (EMS) if you move into your own home within 12 months of the posting date. Your soldier should speak to his/her Unit Admin or refer to JSP 752 Chapter 7, Section 9 for further details.
Q. I want to use FHTB to buy, but need to know what are the rules regarding timings from receiving keys to my house to moving out of my SFA? Click here to show answer
Answer: : A: The policy is:
- A property for which FHTB has been claimed must be intended for the Service person’s own immediate occupation, or that of their immediate family.
- For a self-build, occupation should take place within 12 months of the full FHTB application approval and during the assignment which the FHTB advance was awarded.
That said, a grace period to allow move out once completion on the property was complete would be reasonable. Beyond that, they effectively become an irregular occupant and may be subject to ‘damage for trespass’.
DIO state that the minimum legal notice to request someone to vacate a property is 28 days. It appears reasonable that SP plan to vacate SFA in that timeframe, unless there is specific welfare casework (for example relocating to an SPR, but a child may wish to finish that school term), or there is a significant change in personal circumstance.
Further information and links
FHTB is part of the New Employment Model (NEM) programme; an initiative that aims to offer more stable home lives for the majority of Service personnel and their families. Further information can be found on the NEM intranet page (accessed on a military terminal only).
For further advice on options for home purchase, you can visit the Joint Service Housing Advice Office intranet site (accessed on a military terminal only) or the Homes and Communities Agency and Help to Buy websites.
- defenceintranet.diif.r.mil.uk/ORGANISATIONS/ORGS/TRISERVICES/JSHAO/Pages/JSHAO.aspx (accessed on a military terminal only)
AFF has received a number of queries from families experiencing barriers when applying for a mortgage. We are keen to remove these disadvantages and we want lenders to understand that due to our Armed Forces lifestyle, our circumstances are different to civilians and therefore more understanding is required. Read more.
Whilst AFF recognises that frequent moves and BFPO addresses can make credit checking for commercial products difficult for lenders, we ask that they take this into consideration and work to remove disadvantage rather than precluding Armed Forces families from enjoying the same access to commercial products as civilians.
AFF is delighted that the Armed Forces Covenant is raising awareness amongst financial organisations about issues Service families face compared to our civilian counterparts. Many organisations have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and have agreed to deal with mortgage applications manually (rather than automated) for serving soldiers. AFF is working with the Armed Forces Covenant team to help encourage other financial institutions to step forward and give a fairer deal to Army families.
The Armed Forces Covenant states: those who serve in the Armed forces should not be disadvantaged because of their occupation. Mortgage applications will be treated fairly and consistently with civilian counterparts and will not be automatically rejected purely on the basis of a BFPO address. As part of its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, the MOD is working with several organisations to improve access to a wider range of commercial products and financial services for serving personnel.
The government and representative bodies from the financial sector have produced guidance notes, on the GOV.UK website, offering advice, tips and practical help for Armed Forces personnel applying for personal unsecured and mortgages.Back to top
If you are accompanying your spouse/civil partner overseas and fall pregnant, you may be entitled to an Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance if you are prevented from claiming the normal Maternity Allowance. The MOD Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance policy applies to eligible spouse/civil partners who accompany their Service spouses overseas to countries outside the EEA and where there is no reciprocal benefit agreement. Read more.
The Department for Work and Pensions restricts payment of UK Maternity Allowance to those who are living, and have worked, in the UK. If you do not meet the criteria for UK Maternity Allowance because you are not resident in the UK at the time of application, or your qualifying work was undertaken within the EEA, or in a country where there is a reciprocal benefit agreement, your claim will be dealt with by that country. However, if you lived and/or worked in a country outside the EEC and one without a reciprocal agreement, the MOD may consider the payment of an ex-gratia payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance. There is no automatic entitlement and payment is at the discretion of the MOD, however the intent is to consider such requests favourably.
In all cases, regardless of where you live or have worked, the first application for Maternity Allowance should always be made to the Department for Works and Pensions. They will determine your entitlement to Maternity Allowance and will notify you how to proceed. If you receive notification that you may be entitled to an ex gratia payment from the MOD, you will need to claim via your spouse/civil partner's Unit HR staff. Defence Information Note 2015DIN01-171 provides further guidance on how to do this; this is available to serving personnel and Unit Admin staff on the Defence Intranet.Back to top
A series of 'top tips' offering Service personnel practical advice on financial issues has been produced by the government and representative bodies from the financial sector. Read more.
As part of its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, the MOD is working with several organisations to improve the ability of Armed Forces personnel to gain access to a wider number of commercial products and financial services, and lessen associated difficulties that are often experienced because of their unique lifestyle.
Click here to read the full guidance.
Anyone experiencing difficulties should contact Laura Lewin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The original instruction from the MOD stated that Sure Start Maternity Grants (SSMG) for those living overseas should be claimed from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through a single point of contact. This address has since changed and applications should go through the DWP Social Fund department. Read more.
All applicants have been requested to annotate ‘HM Forces Staff’ on the personal details part of the form and also asked to try and include as much relevant information as possible. The completed application forms should go to:
Wembley Benefit Centre
Mail Handling Site ‘A’
Tel: 0845 6036 967Back to top
If you are moving back to the UK after a stint overseas, it is a good idea to consider the implicationson your finances. Read more.
- Loss of entitlement to LOA will mean less cash at the end of the month.
- If you have been in Germany you will no longer be entitled to receive Kindergeld on your return to the UK.
- If the non-serving spouse was employed overseas, there may be a temporary loss of second salary until a UK job is secured. It is a good idea to find out about getting a Good Conduct Certificate before returning to the UK as many employers will ask you for one.
- No more petrol coupons. Expect to pay more for fuel at UK pumps. It might even be worth considering changing to a more fuel-efficient car.
- Loss of tax-free perks on weekly shop and other goods.
- UK SFA charges could be higher, both due to CAAS banding and because in some countries SFA charges are downgraded by a level.
You will now have the privilege of paying for a TV licence, road tax (also on the increase), higher childcare costs and tax on a new car.
Back to top