Allowances

Information for families during the coronavirus outbreak

Contents

01   CEA repayments – new guidance

New guidance has been issued by the MOD on CEA repayments. Click here for more information

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02   Guidance for Service personnel based overseas with children at UK boarding school

The full general guidance and information regarding allowances related to this guidance are available here:
Defence Note – Border Restrictions & Boarding Schools
Directed Letter SCVs – Border Force Restrictions in Response to COVID

A summary of some of the key question are available below:

Do my child and I need to self-isolate when returning to the UK to return my child to boarding school?
The Government have made it a mandatory requirement from 8 June for all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days. They need to give an address where they will be staying and complete a form.

Does the parent need to self-isolate for the full 14 days before returning overseas?
The full 14-day period of self-isolation does not need to be completed if the parent is not in the country for that length of time. However, you would need to self-isolate for the length of time you stay in the UK up to a maximum of 14 days.

For more information on government guidance on self-isolation requirements please see the Entering the UK information on the Government website.

What do we do if our airline is no longer offering an unaccompanied minors service during Covid 19?
The MOD have given five options which we have listed below. The options are listed in the order they should be considered. It is important to speak to your chain of command before any booking to discuss the best option suitable for your family:

  1. Your child could stay at boarding school if it is open and offering a self-isolation period, then you would need to return overseas immediately.
  2. Your child stays with their nominated guardian and you return overseas immediately.
  3. You and your child could stay in one of the welfare houses in UK.
  4. You and your child can stay with family and friends.
  5. Where none of the above options are suitable for your family, yourself and your child could stay in a hotel.

Can we get any help with the extra school costs for the self- isolation period?
Yes, you can claim for the boarding element only of the 14-day self-isolation period before term starts. Fees must be proportionate to regular boarding rates and all “extras” will be at personal cost.

Can we claim Guardians’ Allowance while the child stays with the guardian?
Yes, it has been exceptionally authorised by the MOD so Guardians’ Allowance can be paid if the child is staying with a nominated guardian on their own. If it is deemed necessary, that you stay with your child then Private Arrangements Rate (PAR) can be claimed. However, PAR and Guardians’ Allowance cannot be paid together.

Do we need to pay for the welfare house in the UK and how do we book it?
No charge will be payable for Service welfare accommodation, speak to your local welfare team to check availability and book.

Can we claim PAR if we have to stay with family and friends?
Yes, one claim per family per night.

What if we have an older child who normally travels alone, but we do not want to leave them to self -isolate alone for 14 days if we are using option E?
If you have an older child who could normally travel alone but would require you to stay in a hotel with them this will be permitted, if considered essential and agreed by the chain of command.

What about travel costs?
Travel costs claimed up to the cost of Motor Mileage Allowance (MMA) for the journeys. Hire car costs are permitted within the total terminal travel costs claim which must not exceed the cost of MMA for the journey.

It is important to speak to your unit HR to discuss travel costs for each option or read the full guidance. 

What if my child needs to return to university to collect their belongings they left over Easter?
You could use one of your School Children’s Visit (SCV) journey entitlements for your child to collect or you may return to collect the belongings on behalf of your child. Under reverse SCV arrangements, no subsistence costs are payable. You cannot accompany the child in this instance 

Do we still get the same options if we use a reverse SCV?
No. As subsistence is not normally paid for reverse child visits, this will remain the same and no subsistence can be claimed. More details of reverse SCV arrangements are provided in JSP 752 10.0228.

If you have any questions or require more information, please ask your serving partner to speak to their chain of command, their admin support unit or the MOD Families Section.

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03   CEA temporary arrangements update

The MOD has provided a further update on CEA temporary arrangements (dated 21 May) the new letter can be found here.

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04   Self-help moves

The Army has now confirmed the planned gradual return to routine assignments for individuals. As usual, Service personnel who live in SFA are entitled to have their personal effects moved at public expense upon assignment. They are still able to apply for the contracted removal service but in addition, those moving within the UK may also choose to undertake a self-help move if they prefer.

To help increase removal capacity, those Service personnel who are normally entitled to have their belongings moved at public expense within the UK and who move in accordance with the latest guidance from the Army Personnel Centre (APC), will be able to make use of an increase to the UK Privately Arrangements Self-Help Scheme (UK PASH). The provision will increase from 6 cubic metres to 30 cubic metres if moving before 31 August 20. It will only be valid where the Service person has moved in accordance with APC priorities.

For those families moving to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, their assignment will be subject to regional devolved Government guidance.

If you have more queries about this, please ask the Service person to speak to their unit admin office.

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05   CEA Special Educational Needs Allowance (SENA)

DCYP has provided information and answers to commonly asked questions about SENA during COVID-19.4

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06   CEA & summer term bills

The MOD has provided a further update on arrangements for CEA during summer term 2020. The full letter and annex are available here but below is a Q&A summary:

My boarding school has not announced yet whether we will be charged our normal boarding termly fees or whether there will be a reduction. What should we do?
You should pay the school fees for the Summer Term, once you have received your bill, whether the fees have been reduced or not.

If your school decides to discount your fees, the Service person needs to declare this to the MOD.

My boarding school has reduced our fees, due to COVID-19. I have already received my normal boarding CEA payment. What should we pay?
You should pay the reduced and billed fees.

Reduced fees above appropriate CEA maximum
If the reduced fees are still above the appropriate CEA maximum, you won’t be required to pay any CEA back to the MOD.

Reduced fees below appropriate CEA maximum
If reduced fees are below the appropriate CEA maximum, you will need to pay back some CEA to the MOD.  The amount to be returned will be calculated on an individual basis.  Examples of this are included here

How do I return to the money to the MOD?
If your school decides to discount your fees, the Service person needs to declare this to the MOD. The process for this will be outlined in a directed letter from the Armed Forces Remuneration Team, which will be provided in due course. Service personnel do not have to take any action until this letter is issued and no money will need to be repaid before 1 August 2020.

My school has offered a discount to civilian parents but not to military ones. Do we need to tell the MOD?
The MOD is in contact with schools through the Boarding Schools Association. They have asked them to ensure that they consider the fees charged to Service personnel, given the current lack of boarding provision. They have also asked them to ensure that Service personnel are not disadvantaged and to ensure that CEA is being spent appropriately.

If any Service personnel claiming CEA become aware that they are not being offered discounts by their child’s school, which are being offered to other non-serving parents, they should inform DCYP as soon as they become aware.

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07   Disturbance Expense

FAQs

We were due to move but it has been postponed under the assignment freeze. When can we claim Disturbance Expense?
For moves delayed due to the impact of COVID-19, entitlement to Disturbance Expense can exceptionally be approved by the CO up to 6 months after the Service person’s revised Report for Duty Date (as confirmed by their Career Manager or the date stated by the PACCC by which the move should have been completed).

We were due to move and it has been postponed under the assignment freeze but we had already claimed and been paid our Disturbance Expense. Do we have to pay it back?
Where the Service person has already claimed Disturbance Expense prior to 22 Mar 20 for an anticipated move, and the move has been delayed to a later date, they will not be required to pay it back and the Disturbance Expense that has been claimed will remain valid for that assignment.

What if we had claimed Disturbance Expense but, due to the assignment freeze, that assignment is cancelled and the serving person given a different assignment?
If the assignment is cancelled and a subsequent Assignment Order is issued, then the Disturbance Expense that has been claimed will remain valid for that new assignment.

What if we had claimed Disturbance Expense but, due to the assignment freeze, that assignment is cancelled and the serving person hasn’t been issued with a new assignment?
If the assignment is cancelled with no new Assignment Order, then the Disturbance Expense will need to be paid back. However, a Service person who has necessarily incurred expenses in anticipation of a qualifying move may potentially submit a claim. Please ask them to speak to the unit admin office for more details and the criteria.

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08   School Children’s Visits

Families contacted AFF with concerns about School Children’s Visits (SCVs) and the impact that COVID-19 may have on these.

The MOD announced interim arrangements for SCVs which were put in place on 9 March and will remain in place until further notice.  Please see the FAQ section below for further detail.

It is important for families to make sure that they have appropriate guardian arrangements in place in the UK.

Parents or guardians are responsible for the welfare of children attending boarding school in the UK, including during SCVs. Parents should keep up to date with guidance published by the UK Government as well as any host nation guidance and arrangements to make decisions on SCVs. 

FAQs

What if a Service person (SP) decides that their child should not travel to the overseas area on a SCV and wishes to arrange a reverse SCV instead?
The regulations at JSP 752 10.0228 already allow for a reverse visit for one parent for reasons of child welfare. Should a parent consider this to be the preferred option for them during the coronavirus outbreak, then a reverse SCV can be authorised in lieu of one of the SCVs for each eligible child. This is in addition to the reverse visit already allowed for welfare reasons which may already have been taken or which may be required later in the academic year.

What if a SP has already booked a SCV flight for a child to the overseas area but the coronavirus situation changes and they need to cancel the flight because of official advice?
If it is necessary to change travel plans because of official advice from the UK Government, advice from the children’s school or from their local Commanding Officer or the Government of the country to which they are assigned, then flights can be cancelled and the cost of the cancelled flight will be met by the MOD. The SCV can then be re-arranged for a later date or a reverse SCV can be authorised instead. 

What if a SP has already booked a SCV flight for a child to the overseas area but due to the coronavirus situation they would prefer to cancel the SCV?
In this scenario, where the decision was based on preference rather than any official advice, parents could decide to cancel the SCV flights and MOD would meet the cost of the cancelled flights. However, this would count as one of the child’s SCVs. 

What if a child travels to the overseas area on a SCV but cannot return following the Easter holiday because of official travel advice, school closure or an isolation period has been imposed?
In this scenario, parents could decide to cancel the flight back to the UK and re-arrange for a later date once the school re-opens or travel advice changes. Any cost incurred in the cancellation and re-booking would be met by the MOD. 

What if a parent travels to the UK on a reverse SCV but cannot return to the overseas area following the Easter holiday because of official travel advice or an isolation period has been imposed?
In this scenario, parents would be permitted to cancel the flight back to the UK and re-arrange for a later date once the official advice permitted travel. Any cost incurred in the cancellation and re-booking would be met by the MOD. 

What if a reverse SCV to the UK has been booked but a change to the situation in UK means that the SP would prefer their child to travel to the overseas assignment area?
If it is necessary to change travel plans because of advice from the UK Government, advice from the children’s school or from their local Commanding Officer or the Government of the country to which they are assigned, then flights can be cancelled and the costs of the cancelled flight will be met by the MOD. If appropriate, a SCV could then be arranged for the child instead.

What if a child cannot travel to the overseas assignment area due to official travel advice and the parent cannot travel to the UK due to official travel advice?
The cost of return travel from the child’s school to a guardian’s address in the UK may be claimed in accordance with JSP 752 10.0211, less the normal parental contribution. 

Can a SP claim subsistence if they are visiting the UK on a reverse SCV and cannot return to the overseas area due to travel restrictions, an imposed isolation period or due to closure of their child’s school?
There is no entitlement to subsistence or hotel costs during reverse SCVs. Any questions from displaced families should be directed through chain of command who will provide advice on assistance in these circumstances. 

If a spouse returns to the UK on a reverse SCV and remains in the UK for an extended period, what effect would this have on accompanied status and overseas allowances?
In accordance with JSP 752 Annex A to Section 1 of Chapter 2, when a Service person’s spouse/civil partner is absent from the family home for an extended period, there may be a requirement for an assessment of a Service person’s accompanied status in order to assess eligibility for expenses and allowances. The exceptional circumstances relating to the coronavirus will be taken into account when making any assessment. 

What if flights are not available to/from my overseas assignment area due to COVID-19 restrictions but it is possible to make a SCV journey by vehicle and I wish to do so?
In this scenario, you may choose to travel by car and claim the cost of ferry/Eurotunnel and terminal MMA travel in line with the regulations already in place for those assigned to North West Europe. In line with these regulations no subsistence is authorised. JSP 752 Para 0.0211 c. refers. 

If I want to remove my child from boarding school during COVID-19, will this be in breach of CEA regulations?
The MOD has confirmed that, provided the parent has agreement from the school to remove the child temporarily and they intend to return, there will be no breach of CEA regulations. This would only occur if the parent was removing their child with no intention of the child returning.

The above should be read alongside JSP 752 Chapter 10 Section 2 – School Children’s Visits.

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09   New MOD guidance on CEA regulations

The MOD issued new guidance on 19 March on CEA regulations in light of the impact of COVID-19.    

FAQs

The child is prevented from travelling to join their parents by Governmental travel directive or the imposition of an isolation period; they are unable to join a designated guardian for valid reasons (e.g. the guardian is self-isolating) and continue to be accommodated at their school.
In this case, where the child remains at the school outside of the normal academic term times, the CEA claimant will be entitled to reclaim any additional fees providing they are proportional to the routine boarding element of the school fees and only once authorised by the chain of command.

A spouse or civil partner is prevented from re-joining the Service parent at their duty station by Governmental travel directive or the imposition of an isolation period.
The guidance on accompanied status dictates that when a Service person’s spouse/civil partner is absent from the Residence at Work Address for a period of 90 days or more during a 12-month period, their ongoing eligibility for CEA will be reviewed.  In conducting the assessment, exceptional circumstances relating to COVID-19 are to be taken into account. 

Where it is unsafe for a child to remain in the boarding environment at their school but they are able to convert to day-pupil status for the period covered by these arrangements.
In this case, if the child is able to live with their parents or a designated guardian and travel to the school daily, the claimant may convert to CEA(Day) from the beginning of the next academic term.  This can apply even if their child has not completed three consecutive academic terms at the same school. Should the school be required to close altogether then the child should stay with their parents or designated guardian.  In these circumstances CEA eligibility will not be adversely affected.  If the school/boarding facility should re-open mid-term after CEA(Day) is in issue, any additional boarding fees may also be reimbursed. 

The child travels to an overseas area but is prevented from returning to their school because of a Government travel directive, school closure or the imposition of an isolation period.
Where the child is required to remain at the overseas duty station, the parent will continue to receive the additional Local Overseas Allowance until the child is able to return to their school and CEA eligibility will be unaffected. 

Where a claimant is about to complete their Service and a delay in examinations causes an extension to the academic year.
In these circumstances any additional school fees should be the subject of PACCC casework. 

Where the impact of COVID-19 on critical stages of education (GCSEs, A-Levels, BTECs and Scottish Nationals and Highers or equivalents) and schools recommend an extra year of CEA.
In these circumstances, the reimbursement of any additional school fees should be the subject of PACCC casework with advice from Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).

Where a school closes following Governmental direction; the length of closure is yet to be determined and the school fees are required to be paid before the start of the next academic term.
In these circumstances CEA claimants should submit their claims and pay the school fees.  Should claimants receive a refund from the school at a later date the CEA element should be declared to PACCC.

Any other circumstances that arise should be considered on a case-by-case basis, through casework submitted to the PACCC taking into account the exceptional circumstances brought about by COVID-19.  Any reimbursements from the school to the claimant that arise must declared.

I have received my summer term’s CEA payment but my school says they may only charge me as a day pupil or offer me a discount. What should I be paying?
AFF is aware that families have questions about how COVID-19 affects CEA, including the process, payment and amended bills. The MOD has advised that work on this is ongoing and further guidance will be issued soon. We will update you as soon as we can.

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