Military allowances

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Contents

01   Changes to Local Overseas Allowance

On 1 July 2021, the way that Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) is calculated changed.

LOA is intended to contribute towards the additional local cost of day-to-day living when Service personnel are required to serve overseas on permanent assignment, temporary duty or exercise. Eligibility will remain the same and it will still be paid alongside the monthly salary. Please note that the new LOA package will not be applied to Defence Attachés and their support staff.

What are the changes?

One of the most significant changes was the introduction of a single band for all Service personnel regardless of rank, removing the previous rank-based banding system.

The elements of the old LOA rate that related to support for an overseas private vehicle and respite (travel and accommodation) costs, have been broken out of the LOA daily rates. These two provisions can now be claimed when Service personnel incur the costs, rather than being included in the daily rate, and will be accessible only to Service personnel on permanent assignments overseas.

The changes that have been made mean that some Service personnel around the world will see an increase in the value of their LOA package, while for others it will remain broadly the same or decrease.

When will the changes take place?

All Service personnel receiving LOA on 30 June 2021 will automatically transfer to the new LOA package on 1 July 2021. Any locations that see a significant change in the daily rate of LOA will have their rates changed gradually over a period of up to three years (1 July 2021 to 1 July 2024).

The Overseas Private Vehicle Provision became available from 1 April 2021. 

When were the new rates for my location released?

The rates were released on 11 June 2021. The new rates will not be in the public domain – for more information, please ask your soldier to speak to their unit admin team to access this information.

How do I find out more?

A video has been released explaining the changes in more detail:

To find out more, see gov.uk/guidance/local-overseas-allowance-loa

The MOD has also written FAQs on LOA.

If you would like to provide any feedback about LOA, please contact moneysupport@aff.org.uk

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02   Overseas Private Vehicle Provision

Overseas Private Vehicle Provision (OPVP) was introduced as part of the changes to Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) which take effect from 1 July 2021.

What will it replace?

Previously there were two schemes which assisted Service personnel with the cost of a private vehicle when they are assigned overseas:

  • shipping vehicles to qualifying locations in receipt of Small Station LOA (SSLOA)
  • a car buy/sell (CBS) allowance paid as part of the daily rate of Main Station LOA (MSLOA) to most MSLOA locations.

These have changed and both schemes have been replaced with OPVP as part of the changes to LOA.

What is the new OPVP?

OPVP will help families on overseas postings with the cost of accessing a private vehicle in an overseas location. Depending on the circumstances, it can be claimed on assignment both into and out of the overseas location.

What can it be used for?

Service personnel can use the provision to:

  • contribute towards administrative and vehicle depreciation costs when selling and buying a vehicle. The Service person must be able to demonstrate that two separate financial transactions have taken place. This will be called Overseas Private Vehicle Provision – Selling/Buying (OPVP(S/B)) or,
  • contribute towards the charges incurred when required to cancel a vehicle lease agreement. This will be called Overseas Private Vehicle Provision – Cancelling Vehicle Lease (OPVP(CVL)), or
  • contribute towards the cost of privately shipping one vehicle to and from the permanent overseas assignment location. This will be called Overseas Private Vehicle Provision – Shipping (OPVP(S)).
What are the rates?

The current rate is set at £1,025 as of April 2022 and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

When will it be available?
  • Service personnel assigned to an overseas location: OPVP will be available to Service personnel permanently assigned to an overseas location from 1 April 2021.
  • Service personnel assigned from an overseas location: It will be available to Service personnel assigned from an overseas location from 1 July 2021.
What if we wish to drive?

Service personnel have the option to drive their personal vehicle to eligible countries (Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) and claim Motor Mileage Allowance and one day’s subsistence as a contribution towards this journey. From 1 April, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar will also be added to this list.

What if we have two cars?

There has also been an introduction of a greater rate of LOA which will be available to accompanied Service personnel who can demonstrate that they are running two private vehicles at the overseas location, with effect from 1 July 2021. 

Transitionary arrangements

Transitionary arrangements have been made for Service personnel that were in receipt of the CBS element of MSLOA, on the old system. This is because it is recognised that, as at 1 July 2021, those serving at these locations will have received different amounts of financial contribution depending on the length of time they have been assigned to the location.

For more information on OPVP and the transitionary arrangements, see the directed letter.

Where can I get more information?

More details can be found in JSP 752 Chapter 9 section 4. Any queries should be directed to the Service person’s Unit HR admin. If you would like to provide any feedback about OPVP, please contact moneysupport@aff.org.uk

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03   Respite Provision

Respite Provision (RP) was introduced as part of the changes to Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) which took effect from 1 July 2021.

What is the new Respite Provision?

Respite Provision is a contribution towards accommodation and travel costs to allow the serving person and their family to have a short respite break away from the duty station overseas.

Who can claim it?

Respite is available to all service personnel and their immediate family members who are permanently assigned overseas and when in receipt of permanent rates of LOA.

If you are claiming School Children’s Visits (SCVs) for a child, then you will not be able to claim Respite Provision for that child.

How much can I claim?

  • Each overseas location that the Service person is assigned to is given a set number of claimable Respite days per person, per year. This varies by location.
  • There is a maximum claimable rate per day, per person. Again, this varies in each location. You can find the number of days and claimable rate per day in JSP752 Chapter 3 Rates.

What can I claim for?

  • You can claim for accommodation but not food and drink.
  • You can claim travel costs for travel to and from your Respite destination.
  • Respite days can be taken in one block of days or individual days up to the maximum entitlement for that country.
  • You are not able to use Respite Provision when you are using the Get You Home Overseas allowance or with any other travel entitlement.

How do I claim?

Respite costs are retrospectively claimed through the JPA Expenses Claim system. You will need to keep all your receipts and claim no later than 14 days after your break. You may be able to get an advance of pay of up to 80% of your maximum claim rate.

Where can I get more information?

More details can be found in JSP 752 Chapter 9 section 5. Any queries should be directed to the Service person’s Unit HR admin. If you would like to provide any feedback about Respite Provision, please contact moneysupport@aff.org.uk

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04   What allowances can a soldier in a long-term relationship claim when moving on assignment from one surplus SFA to another?

Generally for cohabitation with your LTR partner, you are not eligible to receive any additional allowances in support of your cohabitation. However, changes to policy confirmed by the Army allowances team mean that Service personnel in the UK who are in a registered long-term relationship on JPA can get the SFA rate of Disturbance Expense on a qualifying move (e.g. on assignment to a new duty station), when occupying surplus SFA in a non-FAM area.

They can also claim UKPASH – the UK Private Arrangements Self-Help Scheme (UKPASH). This is a private removal arrangement that could help pay towards the cost of hiring a van. We would advise that the soldier contacts the unit HR admin team to discuss this. Please note that UKPASH applications must be pre-approved by unit HR admin staff and receipts provided.

For example, if a single soldier in a long-term relationship were to move from London to Catterick and successfully applied for surplus SFA, the SP would be entitled to Disturbance Expense at £1,041 and could claim UKPASH up to £253.44 (correct as of April 2022).

NB:  If you are in a Future Accommodation Model pilot area, the benefits you may be eligible for will differ. See discovermybenefits.mod.gov.uk/army/future-accommodation-model-fam

If you are having problems claiming these allowances or would like to share your views on allowances for those in long-term relationships, contact moneysupport@aff.org.uk

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05   Discover My Benefits - new online tool for Service personnel and families

The MOD has launched an online tool to help Service personnel, their families & anyone interested in joining the Armed Forces discover the range of support & benefits available to them. For more details visit Discover My Benefits

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06   Making sense of military allowances

AFF is pleased that the MOD has recognised that military allowances can be complicated, and have produced this helpful, easy-to-read guide for soldiers and their families. The booklet provides information about the various expenses and allowances your soldier can claim.

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07   Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme

The Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme is an advance of salary scheme, which is available to help Service personnel who want to buy their first home and to enable the option to self-build amongst eligible Service personnel.

Since 2014, Regular Service personnel have been able to take an advance of up to 50% of their gross annual salary (capped at £25,000), interest free, to purchase their own home.

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 supports greater lifestyle choice and retention of personnel.

The pilot was initially planned to run for three years, but due to its popularity it has now been extended until December 2022.

The loan is repaid through the Service person’s monthly salary, over a period of 10 years. You will be expected to live in the home whenever Service needs allow. It is taxable and soldiers should seek advice on the impact this will have on their monthly income.

For more information, please read the full government guidance at www.gov.uk/guidance/forces-help-to-buy. Further information can be found in JSP 464 Chapter 12.

If you have any questions, comments or further suggestions, then please contact AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist at moneysupport@aff.org.uk or 07593 130364.

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08   MOD Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance

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.

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 Work 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 2018DIN01-026 provides further guidance on how to do this; this is available to serving personnel and Unit Admin staff on the Defence Intranet.

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09   Eligibility to final removals

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

Ordinarily, first and final house moves in the military are not paid for at public expense; however, 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.

If your soldier is due to complete their Service and receive an immediate pension (e.g. completed 22 yrs. or for Officers, 16yrs reckonable Service), and has completed a JPA Form F024 and submitted it to their Career Manager, they may be eligible.

Critically, if Career Managers are unable to meet the needs of the Service person (i.e. by posting them within 50 miles or 90 minutes travel time of the requested area) then they may be entitled to DE and RPE for their final move.

The main eligibility criteria are:

  • The preferred location must be within the UK, and must be a unit or establishment in which an assignment exists that the claimant could fill if it were vacant.
  • Your soldier is serving at a duty station more than 50 miles from a location for which they expressed a first preference.
  • The Service person is accompanied and resides in SFA or an alternative Residence at Work (RWA) address.
  • Or, if single, they are a homeowner or householder.
  • JPA Form F024 must be submitted during your soldier’s penultimate assignment. For final postings more than four years in duration, the form must be submitted and approved no later than two years before the end of Service.

Further information on Final Tour of Duty eligibility can be found in JSP 752, or contact your Admin Office for more details.

Given the high cost of removals these days, filling in one little form may well save you a great deal of money in the future – it’s worth a look.

If you would like to provide any feedback about final removals or Final Tour of Duty, please contact moneysupport@aff.org.uk

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