Transition

Overview

Between October 2016 and October 2018, the AFF Transition Liaison, Kate McCullough worked with her counterparts in the other Families Federations to research families’ experiences of leaving the Army.

The two-year project helped us understand the challenges that families face when their soldier leaves the Army and the help they need. We will use the evidence to help change policy and service provision with the aim of improving families’ experiences of transition. The full report can be found here.

If you have a question or concern that relates to your soldier leaving the Army, contact one of our Specialists or your local co-ordinator.

Contents

01   Housing

Eligibility for final removals

The Army doesn’t pay for your first or final move, so please be aware of the costs associated with moving and prepare accordingly. There is a little known regulation covering ‘Final Tour of Duty’ requests. Provision does exist for paying both Disturbance Expense (DE) and Removal of Personal Effects (RPE) at public expense for a final move, providing that a request to reside in a particular area has previously been made to the appropriate Career Manager. For more information, click here.

Charges on move-out

All charges for damages and deficiencies on SFA and SSFA in the UK are now recovered from the soldier’s pay. For more information on how to prepare for move-out, click here.

The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)

The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides advice and guidance, to you and the serving soldier, about housing options when making the transition to civilian life. Soldiers and their partners can attend a civilian housing brief at any point during the soldier’s career. For more information, click here. The JSHAO civilian housing brief is now available online via the Defence Gateway so you can log on at home and do the e-brief together.

Social housing

Social housing is very scarce and most councils have long waiting lists – the Armed Forces Covenant means that you will not be disadvantaged by not having a local connection, however, it will NOT mean that you get to the top of the list. Click here for more details. Remember that if your soldier receives a pension lump sum as they leave the Army, this may mean you exceed the asset threshold to apply for social housing. For more information on social housing, click here.

Forces Help to Buy Scheme

The scheme aims to address low levels of home ownership in the Armed Forces, overcoming the disadvantages that mobility brings in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. It will support greater lifestyle choice and retention of personnel. If you have at least six months left to serve at the time of application, you may be eligible. Click here for further details.

Notice to Vacate guidance for SFA customers from DIO

When your entitlement to SFA is due to finish, perhaps because of end of Service, divorce or discharge, you will be issued with a Notice to Vacate (NTV) by DIO.

An NTV is legal notice of the termination of your licence to occupy SFA and is generally 93 days with the last day of the 93 days timed to coincide with your soldier’s last day of service. During this period, you will still pay Service rates for the property and this money will still be collected direct from your soldier via JPA.

For more information on why it is issued and what you should do when you have received it, click here.

Irregular Occupancy – What happens when a ‘Notice to Vacate’ has expired?

Although it happens more than you might think, Irregular Occupancy isn’t a subject commonly discussed, unless you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of perhaps a marital breakdown, or just at the end of your Service. Forget the term illegal occupancy (as it is often called), there is nothing illegal about finding yourself in an SFA when your entitlement has ceased.

If your soldier is leaving the Services, then the housing briefs that a soldier can attend at any point during their career, whether they are thinking of leaving the Army or not are a good source of information about when you are expected to move out of your SFA and what help is available to assist you with finding a future home. Spouses are welcome to attend these briefings with their soldier.

Here is a quick summary of the main circumstances and timings involved when occupants are required to move out of an SFA; in all cases it is the DIO Loss of Entitlement team (LOET) that sends you the Notice to Vacate:

  • If you are or are about to become an IO as a result of retirement, redundancy, discharge or separation, call the DIO Loss of Entitlement team on 01904 418000 (Military 94510 8000) or email DIOSDAccn-LOETeam@mod.uk
  • In the case of marriage or civil partnership breakdown, the Notice to Vacate will give you 93 days from the day the LOET is notified of the change in marital status. The serving soldier should inform his/her unit of the change of marital status and the unit will inform the LOET.
  • In the case of a standard discharge or retirement from the Services, you are required to give the LOET at least four months’ notice of your soldier’s last day of Service. 93 days’ Notice to Vacate will then be given to coincide with the discharge date. If less notice is given, then the Notice to Vacate period will be reduced accordingly.
  • In areas where SFA availability is good, it may be possible to apply to remain in your home past your leaving date on a ‘surplus’ basis; market rate is charged for the rental of the property and a maximum occupation period of six months is permitted.
  • For a medical discharge, 93 days’ Notice to Vacate is given from the last day of Service so housing charges will be at Service rates for 93 days after discharge; the unit and the occupant should inform the LOET of the impending discharge date.
  • When discharge is on disciplinarily grounds then only 28 days’ Notice to Vacate will be given; the unit and the occupant should inform the LOET of the impending discharge date.

In all cases, should you remain in your SFA once the Notice to Vacate has expired; you will no longer be entitled to pay normal housing charges for your property.

You will be charged a new rate that is based on local council rents, and you will be liable for council tax and water/sewage rates; whilst this is not full ‘market rate’, it may be considerably higher than your current charge.

These figures are individually calculated and issued in plenty of time for you to apply for any necessary benefits. In the case of marriage breakdown, your Council Tax charges will be abated by 25% to allow for single occupancy.

If you wish to apply to stay in your SFA for longer, click here for more information.

If you require local authority housing when you move out of your SFA, the LOET will issue you a ‘Certificate of Cessation of Right to Occupy Service Quarters’; this is a document issued to show when your entitlement to occupy Service accommodation will end.

The Certificate can be used to demonstrate to a local housing authority that you will become homeless on a given date. The Government issued guidance which encourages local authorities to accept these certificates as ‘proof of homelessness’ and not insist on a court order for possession before being prepared to provide any homelessness assistance.

When the time comes for you to move out of the SFA, it must be cleaned to move-out standard in the normal way. You should arrange a pre-move-out inspection through the Amey Occupancy Services Team on 0800 707 6000 so that your Accommodation Officer can give you all the guidance you require for move-out.

You may also be entitled to financial help with your removals, so contact your Unit Welfare Officer who will be able to advise you.

If you find that you have no-where to live after you leave your SFA then the Cotswold Centre in Wiltshire is a good alternative until you have made more permanent arrangements.

The DIO OPS Accommodation finance team, based in York, deals with collecting rents from Irregular Occupants when they can no longer be deducted from salary. All letters in relation to Irregular Occupancy, with the exception of financial statements, will be issued by the LOET. It is therefore important that you notify them of any changes to your personal circumstances.

Once a ‘Notice’ has been issued, you will be notified of the new charges at least four weeks prior to the Notice expiring. This will enable you, if entitled, to apply early for housing benefits, thereby avoiding any delay in payment.

The letters sent out by the LOET do use legal housing jargon and are set out in a manner required and understood by the courts and local councils. Terms such as: ‘Damages for Trespass’ and ‘Violent Profits’ (in Scotland) can seem intimidating, but they are simply legal phrases used to describe the total charges for the use and occupation of an SFA.

The finance team also has staff dealing with debt recovery, and a lot of time and work is spent attempting to recover unpaid charges such as rent; this can lead to court proceedings.

If you do find yourself in this worrying situation, speak to your Unit Welfare Officer, LOET, Army Welfare Service worker, SSAFA FH or AFF about benefits and future housing provision.

You should also contact the Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO), which has tremendous expertise in dealing with housing needs. Don’t leave it too late – advice is there if you need it.

Where can I get information, advice and support?

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02   Employment

Your CV

In today’s job market, having a good CV is essential, no matter what kind of employment you are seeking.

As an Army spouse who probably has a chequered career history or posting-induced career breaks, it’s even more important that your CV makes you stand out from the crowd. A spouse or partner in gainful employment can make a big difference to a family as they leave the Army. Having an income while your soldier finds their first job after the Army helps with buying or renting a property and can help you feel more secure during resettlement.

Take a look at our top tips to make your CV work for you, for more details, click here and scroll down to CV & Interview Tips.

Where can I get information, advice and support?

  • The Government and some Service and ex-Service organisations offer financial assistance to serving and ex-Service personnel, and members of their families, to support a course of study or training. This may include assistance with the added costs and expenses associated with studying. Click here for some good places to start.
  • Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) Lifeworks for Families runs free courses around the UK and Germany to help Army families get back into work. They will help you discover the career that suits you, guide you through a change in location or situation and help you search and apply for jobs.
  • Have you thought about setting up your own business? Many Army spouses find this an attractive option which fits well with Army family life. Find lots of information to help you get started, here

Resettlement for soldiers

Leaving the Army can be stressful for both the soldier and their family.

If your soldier is facing redundancy or looking at the normal resettlement route, the help that is provided by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) really does work. Different packages are available depending on how many years your soldier has served and for those who are medically discharged. There are lots of resources on the CTP website that are useful for non-serving family members too, such as information sheets and CV guides.

In some cases, such as some examples of medical discharge, a Service leaver can transfer their CTP entitlement to an eligible spouse/partner. For more information, your soldier should speak to their Chain of Command, IERO or CTP advisor.

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03   Education

Changing schools

If you’re going to be settling in a new area as part of transition and will be looking for new school places for your children, it’s important to contact your local schools and the admissions team of the Local Authority (LA) to find out where there are school places in your new area as soon as possible.

Some schools manage their admissions themselves and some are managed by the LA; the Schools Admissions Code 2012 refers to children of Armed Forces personnel.

This is only a consideration for admissions authorities and does not guarantee you the school place of your choice.

Having difficulty acquiring a school place for your child? Let us know, email ec@aff.org.uk so that we can use evidence like yours to continue to campaign.

Transfer of pupil information

The Pupil Information Profile for Military Service Children has been specifically created for the transfer of Service children’s school records as a supplement to the common transfer file.

CEAS and HIVE have ‘moving schools’ packs for primary aged children which can be sent out to you. The pack comprises of three booklets; a children’s activity book, one for parents and a school history book.

Claiming CEA

CEA is paid up until the end of the term that your soldier’s end of Service date falls. If this date falls in a holiday period, then CEA is paid up until the end of the term before.

If your soldier is leaving on redundancy or for other reasons, the rules may be different – contact our Education & Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk for further details.

Double check the small print of the contract you have with your child’s boarding school as some layout a minimum number of terms; if you have not completed those you may be liable for the full fees (without CEA) for the remaining time.

If you are keen for your children to remain at the same school but concerned about how to finance it, some parents have been successful in negotiating a lump sum payment (from their gratuity) to keep their child in school for the remaining time.

There are a couple of bursaries that AFF is aware of for families needing help with school fees. Contact our Education & Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk to find out more.

Changing from a boarding to a day place

Please be aware that some schools have specific quotas for day and boarding pupils – particularly state boarding schools. Don’t assume that you can transfer from one to the other – check this with the school.

Service Pupil Premium

£300 of Service Pupil Premium money is paid directly to state schools, free schools and academies across England for supporting Service children in Years R-11. Service personnel can claim Service Pupil Premium for up to six years after they have left (providing they left after 2011); it is not possible to claim retrospectively. For more details, click here.

Differences between education systems

Click here for a table showing comparative school years for children within the different state education systems of the Devolved Governments.

Childcare

Know where you are moving to? Try to identify suitable childcare as soon as possible and establish if there is a waiting list.

Be sure to let the current nursery know that you are leaving as you can only claim your free hours for three and four year olds in one setting at a time.

The Family Information Service offer free advice on childcare and funding in all areas of England; there is an equivalent elsewhere in the UK.

Where can I get information, advice and support?

 

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04   Money

Termination pay

Final pay-out for pension benefits may take up to 35 working days after your soldier’s discharge/retirement date. It’s important that you plan for this accordingly and don’t rely on this money for time-specific expenditure such as a deposit on a rental property, as any delays could mean you miss out.

Your soldier’s pension

Veterans UK is part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It provides essential support services to the Armed Forces and veterans including:

  • allowances
  • pensions
  • compensation

For more information, click here. You might also find the Forces Pension Society a useful resource.

Final removal costs

The Army does not pay for your first or final move so make sure you are aware of the costs associated with moving and prepare accordingly.

There is a little known regulation that covers ‘Final Tour of Duty’ requests.

Provision does exist for paying both Disturbance Expense (DE) and Removal of Personal Effects (RPE) at public expense for a final move providing that a request to reside in a particular area has previously been made to the appropriate Career Manager.

For more information, click here.

Don’t forget to claim your National Insurance contributions

From 6 April 2010, all Service spouses and civil partners are able to claim National Insurance credits, to maintain their National Insurance record, for time spent accompanying their spouse or civil partner on an overseas assignment.

These credits protect your entitlement to the basic state pension and contribution-based Social Security benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

Click here to download the application form for National Insurance credits

For more information on ‘Getting credits towards your State Pension’, click here

Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)

This is the main benefit you can get if you’re unemployed and looking for work. This benefit is taxable.

JSA returning from overseas assignment:

AFF is extremely pleased that there have been condition changes for families returning from overseas with regards to claiming JSA.

These new changes have been implemented to overcome previous disadvantage faced by Army spouses/civil partners returning from overseas postings. Click here for more details.

Where can I get information, advice and support?

  • The MOD offers a Financial Aspects of Resettlement (FAR) briefing for soldiers and their spouses or partners, which is available to attend as soon as your soldier is entitled to resettlement. This is a great way to find out more about some specific financial elements of transition, such as the Armed Forces pension and ask questions about others.
  • Money Force describes itself as the official home of money guidance for the UK Armed Forces community, including active Service people, veterans, reservists and families.
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05   Health & Additional Needs and Wellbeing

Healthcare is an important consideration when your soldier is leaving the Army, particularly if they or another member of the family is undergoing medical treatment at the time. There are a number of practical steps you can take to ensure family members can access medical and dental treatment once your soldier has left the Army.

It is also worth bearing in mind the emotional impact that transition can have on family member’s wellbeing. The Army has produced Transition Information Sheet 2 – The Emotional Pathway to help raise awareness of this.

Registering with a doctor

Registering with a GP is often nothing new for most Army families; however, if you have previously been registered with Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) or military medical centres, you may be a little anxious about registering with an NHS practice. For information and advice on registering with a GP, click here.

Registering with a dentist/orthodontist

If you are currently registered with an NHS dental practice you can remain on their books if you move, but make sure you inform the practice of your new address.

However, if you decide to transfer your care you may need some information on which dental practices provide NHS treatment in your area. For more information, click here.

If your child is currently on a waiting list for orthodontic treatment, you may find that moving to some areas will mean a longer wait due to the length of waiting lists there.

AFF advises you to try and start the orthodontic treatment before you move because then it will have to be continued and this could reduce waiting time for treatment. If you are experiencing problems with accessing orthodontic treatment, we are here to help, contact AFF’s Health and Additional Needs Specialist at additionalneeeds@aff.org.uk

Helping your soldier access NHS treatment

The Army has produced some transition guidance for soldiers explaining how to access the NHS and veteran related services [Transition Information Sheet 3].

Once your spouse or partner has left the Army they will be considered to be a veteran and it is important that they inform their GP of this, particularly if they have an ongoing medical issue or are taking medication.

Mental health

Army families have always been expected to access their mental health provision through the NHS or through charitable provision, so this won’t change when your spouse/ partner leaves the Army. Mental health provision can also be accessed through various charitable organisations; for more information, click here.

Service personnel are provided with mental healthcare provision through the Defence Medical Services (DMS) if required. Once your soldier has left the Army, their NHS GP becomes responsible for healthcare provision for both physical and mental health issues.

If your spouse/partner is experiencing mental health issues that you believe are related to their Service in the Army, they can ask their GP to refer them to the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP). This is located in Chilwell near Nottingham and is open to veterans who have served on operations since 1982. VRMHP staff understands military life and will carry out an assessment of the mental health problems being experienced and then refer on for any treatment required.

Other organisations that can help both veterans and their families on mental health include:

Transferring treatment or NHS waiting list time

If you or a member of your family is currently undergoing medical treatment, or are taking specific medication, it is important to ask your GP for a copy of any relevant medical notes or a record of the medication that you are taking. This should reduce any delay in treatment when you register with your next GP, particularly if your medical notes haven’t arrived when you have your initial appointment.

If you are receiving specialist treatment in hospital, it is recommended that you ask your consultant for a current referral letter. You will then need to register with a GP, so that they can re-refer you for consultant and secondary care.

If you are currently on an NHS waiting list and move before you reach the top of it, you should be able to transfer any waiting time accrued when you move; this is a commitment of the Armed Forces Covenant.

If you do experience problems with transferring your NHS waiting list time, contact AFF Health and Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

For more information, click here.

Additional Needs Adaptations – moving from SFA to a civilian house

If you have a family member with additional needs and/or disability and you require adaptations to your next property, contact your Local Authority (LA) to request an Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment.

In some areas LAs may have long waiting lists and they usually have eligibility criteria to see whether someone can receive occupational therapy services; this is based on the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) guidance.

For more information on the eligibility criteria, click here

If you cannot wait for an LA OT assessment, you can opt to get a private OT assessment; ensure they are fully qualified and a member of a recognised body, such as the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT).

OTs can also provide you with equipment for your home; to find out how you do this, click here

If you require major adaptations or more expensive equipment, this is the responsibility of the housing department. You may be required to pay something towards the cost of these items, or you may be able to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to help with the cost.

The Disabled Facilities Grant is means tested for adults and is only available in England and Wales. Click the links for information on accessing equipment and grants in Scotland and for NI

Children with a disability who are under 18yrs can get a grant without their parents’ income being taken into account. Contact your local council for more information.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

If your child has SEN or SEND and you need support getting them into the correct school for their needs, contact the local authority and speak to the SEN team. The GOV.UK website has some useful information on SEN and SEND

The Children and Families Act 2014 gave local authorities a statutory duty to produce a ‘Local Offer’ for children and young people with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) from 0 to 25.

You should be able to find the Local Offer on your local authority website or on the Local Offer website. The Department for Education (DfE) has published a useful SEND guide for parents and carers

Click the links for more information about SEN or SEND.

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06   FAQs

What is meant by ‘transition’?
In the context of the Army, ‘transition’ is the process soldiers and their families go through when the soldier is preparing to leave the Army.

How is ‘transition’ different to ‘resettlement’?
As Army families, we should be preparing for transition throughout our soldier’s career so that we’re in the best possible position for a successful move to civvy street, as and when the time comes.

Soldiers are entitled to various forms of support during their ‘resettlement’, which is a finite period of time leading up to and soon after their final date of service. Your soldier can speak to their chain of command or Individual Education & Resettlement Officer (IERO) at any time to find out more about resettlement entitlement.

What do I need to be considering for my family’s transition?
There’s a lot to consider when planning for life after the Army. It is not a linear process and each families’ priorities will be different. Most families will need to think about:

  • Where will we live?
  • Where will our children go to school?
  • Where will we work?
  • How do I register with a new doctor or dentist?
  • How will I make friends and build a support network outside of the Army community?

What support will my soldier get when they leaves?
Soldiers are entitled to a raft of information, guidance and support through the Army, including a Resettlement Advice Brief and access to the Career Transition Partnership (CTP)

Exactly what they are entitled to will vary depending on things like how long they have served. A soldier’s chain of command and Individual Education and Resettlement officers (IEROs) will be able to signpost them to the right information and guide them through the process.

The AFF website provides a wealth of information on specific issues, such as housing, education and childcare, employment and training, health and Foreign & Commonwealth.

In October 2018, the Government announced that they will be establishing a new Defence Transition Service that will deliver specialist support for serving personnel who are most likely to face challenges as they adjust to civilian life. These individuals will be offered unique solutions to the challenges they face, including help with housing or employment. We are still waiting for further information on this service and how families can benefit from it. Watch this space…

What support will our family get when my soldier leaves the Army?
There is very little guidance currently aimed specifically at families in transition. Many military charities extend their services to family members, so it is worth asking about your own situation if you are contacting a charity for help. Family members are encouraged to attend the JSHAO Civilian Housing Brief and the Financial Aspects of Resettlement Brief that soldiers are made aware of. More information about these can be found on the gov.uk and CTP websites.

SSAFA run a Transition Mentoring scheme that is designed to support Service leavers and their families as they leave the Army. Family members can access this service in their own right or alongside their Service Leaver. For more information about the scheme, click here or watch this video. Please note that the scheme is open to people outside of Catterick, to those who are not wounded, injured or sick, and family members too.

When should we start planning for transition?
It is never too early to plan for life after the Army. It takes time to gather information, make big decisions and save money for things like a house deposit or savings to see you through any periods of unemployment.

Where else can I find information, advice or support?

The AFF website contains lots of useful information and the pages above suggest links to other subject-specific sources of information, advice or support.

More general help with transition can also be found at

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