Charges & Allowances

Overview

All SFA and SSFA worldwide are now charged according to the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme (CAAS).

Overseas, CILOCT is not charged and all SFA are graded 2 bands down as part of the overseas incentive.

Charges are set by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, which is independent of MOD and DIO. The charges are subsidised compared to what you would pay on civvy street to reflect the lack of choice and other issues associated with Army life.

Charges are taken directly from the soldier’s pay so when you move, it is very important to check that you are paying the correct amount for your new SFA/SSFA.

For information on moving related allowances including Disturbance Expense and removals, please see Military allowances – relocation allowances

Contents

01   Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme (CAAS) - how to challenge

Once you have received the letter with your final banding (this should be at move-in), if you disagree with the band, you will have 28 days in which to challenge it.

You must base your challenge on factual errors and make it in writing via letter, email or using the template on DII. Download a challenge template letter.

The banding letter will give you full details of the challenge process and JSP 464 volume 3 parts 1 and 2 has all the details you need.

There is a set timeline for challenges and possible appeals to DIO. If sending by email please send to CAASchallenges@pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk

If you have any issues or concerns, please contact the AFF Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

For more information, see gov.uk/government/publications/combined-accommodation-assessment-system-the-new-accommodation-charging-system-explained.

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02   CAAS surveys

CAAS surveys are important as they ensure your home is safe for occupation and that the correct CAAS band charge is being applied. The data gathered at CAAS surveys will also identify what works are required at that address and will inform future upgrade and improvement programmes.

DIO will write to you in advance to inform you when a survey needs to take place. It is important you allow the surveyor access to your home. If the date of the CAAS survey isn’t convenient, please rearrange as soon as you can using the contact details in your letter.

Further information about CAAS can be found at gov.uk/guidance/defence-infrastructure-organisation-service-family-accommodation#the-combined-accommodation-assessment-system-caas-for-service-homes

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03   CAAS: an update

AFF is aware that families are frustrated by the following issues regarding CAAS:

  • Inaccuracies in the final banding documentation
  • A confusing and less than accessible challenge process
  • A lack of transparency on some data.

Below is an initial attempt by AFF to respond to your concerns.

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If you feel that your final CAAS Band is incorrect, AFF strongly advises you to challenge it.

It is better to put in a challenge than not – there have been successful challenges so far. Your challenge doesn’t have to be complicated, for example, “I am challenging due to noise/age of my kitchen/age of my boiler etc.” will suffice.

Where you can back up your statement with photos or videos, send those in as well.

1. Check your assessment type found on Enclosure 1 – top box. Are you survey or extrapolation (assessment made based on a survey of another property of an equivalent type)? If this is incorrect, then you should challenge the assessment.

2. Check the condition of your property found on Enclosure 1. This is made up of four components. To crosscheck the standards we have linked to the relevant documents to help you.

Safety hazard

An SFA fails the Decent Home Standard (DH) and DH+ if it contains a Category 1 hazard. SFA with a Category 2, 3 etc. hazard is still ‘Decent’. Take a look at the categories.

Repair

This criterion has 15 components, of which 12 are classed as key (marked (K) on the table in JSP 464).

A property will only fail on condition if it also fails on age.

A single key component not meeting the relevant age AND condition/repair standard will result in a fail. Two of the three non-key components not meeting the age AND condition standard will result in a fail. Take a look at the components and see Annex A to chapter 3 Table 1 serial 2.

Modernity

This criterion does consider age as a determining factor for pass/fail. The six components, of which three ‘fails’ are required for overall failure against this criterion, are:

  • A reasonably modern kitchen (20 years old or less)
  • A kitchen with adequate space and layout (AFF is still waiting for clarification on how this is calculated)
  • A reasonably modern bathroom (30 years old or less)
  • An appropriately located bathroom and WC
  • Adequate insulation against external noise (where external noise is a problem)
  • Adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats

Thermal comfort

This criterion has a sole measure for pass/fail – the SAP score. SAP is the Standard Assessment Procedure recommended by the government for measuring energy ratings of new build residential dwellings.

SAP is calculated using a fixed set of data but this does not include the condition of a component e.g. the presence of double-glazing, but not whether they are in good condition – this will be considered in the criteria for repair.

The MOD hasn’t registered the SAP scores of their SFA with the National Home Energy Rating Scheme as there is no legal requirement to and there is a cost involved, but AFF is asking for the SAP score to be available to families. This was a disappointing oversight.

Band D and above ensures the property qualifies as a DH+. Take a look at the SAP rating.

3.  Check the scale of your property.

4. Check the location of your property.

The location assessment is determined in part by the location of your SFA to various key amenities using journey times either by walking or public transport (NB they are focused on the nearest specific amenity rather than one of your choice) and the following thresholds apply;

Urban – less than 20 mins travel
Intermediate – between 20 and 40 minutes
Remote – more than 40 minutes

See JSP 464 volume 3 part 2 chapter 5 for more details and access to links in order to interrogate the data for your postcode.

5.  Broadband speed.

The assessment for broadband accessibility and speed for SFA uses Ofcom data for the average broadband download speed and this must meet the UK Govts national minimum broadband speed. The assessment is based on the fastest available broadband speed at that postcode and not the speeds linked to individual providers. In some circumstances OFCOM data may vary within postcodes.  If you believe that the OFCOM baseline data is not achievable at your SFA you should engage with OFCOM. Once OFCOM have confirmed that the average speeds cannot be achieved you should raise a CAAS stage 1 challenge.

Do I still have to report repairs to Pinnacle?

Yes, this is very important. If your windows are draughty, you have a persistent mould problem or if your boiler keeps going off; this will create a record for your SFA and could help to show that repairs are needed which could affect the CAAS banding and will feed into future improvement plans.

Can I use all of JSP 315 as a reason for a challenge?

No, JSP 315 was only used as a guide to the upper level for scale of properties, not a guide to state of repair. For repair, please use JSP 464 as your guide.

I am living in an SFA above entitlement – what will I pay?

If you are living in an above entitlement SFA due to Service reasons (i.e. Pinnacle gave it to you and you didn’t request above entitlement) you will pay the lower of:

  • CAAS band A for the type of property to which you are normally entitled (with location taken into consideration which may reduce the banding) or
  • the CAAS band for the SFA you are currently occupying (this will still go through the transition phase of increments if applicable)

If you are in this situation and you haven’t received a letter, you must challenge the banding so that it will be correctly inputted to JPA.

How will the charges be taken?

CAAS bandings will be entered onto JPA on moving and the charge is taken direct from pay on a monthly basis. Ensure the soldier checks their pay statement for the first few months to ensure that you are paying the correct amount. If you aren’t, please let Pinnacle know and if you are underpaying, make sure you save the difference, as they will claim it back from you; they will also pay you back if you have overpaid.

Why is my banding different to my neighbour’s identical house?

There are many individual reasons why this may be the case based on hidden reasons such as repair or insulation. However, if you feel that the houses are the same, you should put in a challenge based on where you think the difference is. This is very important, especially if your SFA was extrapolated.

My SFA is down as being extrapolated – what does that mean?

For most estates, a sample number of similar SFA were surveyed – the surveys were independently assured and if they all came out the same then the whole estate was extrapolated based on those results. Consequently, there may be some properties which have fallen through the cracks if for some reason works carried out on the surveyed SFA hadn’t been replicated in the extrapolated SFA. If you feel that this is the case, please put in a challenge. Most SFA have now had their initial survey however a few are yet to take place and continue to be extrapolated.

The soldier is away and I don’t want to challenge without their input – can I get an extension?

Yes, write to the Pinnacle CAAS challenge team and explain the situation. If you are part of a unit etc. who are away on tour or on exercise, approach your welfare team and ask them to put in for an extension for the unit.

I have further questions, who can help me?

For further support, please contact the AFF Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

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04   CAAS banding changes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

A policy change took place on 1 October 2020 to bring CAAS charging in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in line with England by introducing a location assessment based on access to local services.

Up until then this data was not available for these devolved countries. However, in order to create parity across all UK SFA, this data has now been collected and has been used to inform the location aspect of CAAS.

On 1 July 2020 families in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales received a letter informing them of a change to their CAAS banding based on changes to location. Only those affected (around 1,005 families) received a letter and whilst the majority saw a decrease in their CAAS band, some saw an increase.

Charges started from 1 October and there was no backdating of refunds for those who saw a decrease in charges.

If you have any questions, or want to appeal, contact the AFF Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

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05   Another result for AFF – DIO to review CAAS location data

We’re delighted to be able to report that DIO has now reviewed some of the factors affecting proposed changes to Army families’ final CAAS band, specifically relating to location.

These changes were first reported in 2017, and the original timeline for implementation of these largely increased charges, based on CAAS location factors, was to be from September 2017, giving families at least 93 days’ notice.

It became apparent that in order to ensure that the data is accessible to families, some of the factors, including the broadband baseline, required further investigation.

As a result, no changes to final CAAS bands due to location were made until 1 April 2018, once the review had been completed. Families were notified, still giving the original amount of 93 days’ notice of any changes to the final CAAS band. The charges were not backdated.

For those families already at the final CAAS band, an adjustment was made to that banding, and for those still transitioning SFA, the location factors were taken into account and the final band for charge was amended.

AFF worked hard to help bring about this development and we’re pleased that DIO took our concerns on board and has worked to try to make the process simpler.

Find out more contact our AFF Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

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06   AFF achieves housing success on behalf of Army families

AFF is delighted to announce that after taking families’ concerns surrounding recent letters about the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme (CAAS) banding to the DIO CAAS team they agreed to take positive action to investigate the increased final charge issue some of you were facing.

For further queries regarding this issue, please contact our AFF Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

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Families contacted AFF to say they had received a letter advising them of a jump in grade, which meant some homes jumped by more than one band based on a review of location and surveys that had been conducted throughout the year.

However, families were told that they could only appeal on the location piece and not on anything relating to the survey results.

Affected families should have been forewarned about upcoming increases, where increases to the final band were as a result of surveys carried out since April 2016, and given a fair chance to appeal the decision, with increases only coming into force 93 days after receipt of notification.

After listening to your concerns, we approached DIO on your behalf.

If you are on a transition pathway for your CAAS band, you should not see an increase of more than one band per year; however, you could see an increase in your final band because of location or a recent survey, which means that your transition pathway will be extended.

AFF has asked DIO to review the process for informing families of the results of CAAS surveys and to ensure that, in future, any changes to final CAAS bands as a result of a survey will be communicated correctly and families given the opportunity to appeal the outcome in a timely manner.

We’re now happy to say that DIO has agreed that, where the final banding of an SFA has jumped by two or more grades, it will be fully investigated.

For those of you still on a transition pathway you will not see a physical increase in charge over and above the agreed one band increase each year to take you to your final banding. However, those who were already at the final banding could have seen an increase in charge.

If this affects your property, you should receive a letter advising you that your SFA charge will be reset to its original transition path. Any overcharges should be refunded and if there is a change to the charge transition path advised on your initial CAAS letter in 2016, you will have 28 working days to appeal and no new charges will be implemented for at least 93 days. Policy is at JSP 464, Vol 3, Part 1, Version 18.

AFF asked DIO that next year they ensure the letters reminding families of the increase in CAAS band due to transition pathways are sent out early March – these letters are simply reminders, you won’t be able to challenge its contents.

AFF has asked that any letters regarding a change to the final band as a result of surveys or data reviews follow the correct procedure and time frame and that families are given the chance to appeal where they feel any changes are not correct.

These letters should be sent out giving families 28 days’ notice of the date of assessment. A letter should then be sent giving notice of the change in charge effective in 93 days before any increased charges are applied and 28 working days in which to challenge the change.

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07   Requesting a temporary charging band reduction for a loss of SFA amenities

There has recently been a change to JSP 464 to clarify what issues can and can’t be considered when requesting a temporary downgrade (TDG).

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I have been without hot water/heating/ water/sewerage for less than 7 days, can I get a TDG?
No, but you can apply for compensation for loss of heating through Pinnacle’s website.

I have been without hot water/heating/ water/sewerage for more than 7 days, can I get a TDG?
Yes – a permanent or intermittent failure lasting for between 7 and 93 days will receive a 2 band CAAS reduction however, if adequate alternative provision has been made (heaters, water etc), a full 2 band reduction will not be awarded.

I had no hot water and no emersion and was put into a hotel – can I still get a TDG?
No.

I was offered a hotel but chose to stay in the SFA – can I still get a TDG?
No.

What other criteria are considered to be awarded a TDG?
For more information see 20220701-JSP464 Policy Amendments-1 JUL 22 (TDG)

How long will my TDG be for?
This will depend on how long the issue lasted for, initially it will be for a maximum of 93 days.

If the issue persists then the situation will be reviewed by DIO and an extension of up to 183 days can be made.

If the issue persists for longer than 186 days the TDG will cease and action will be taken to look to formally reassess the property however, this may not result in a change in the CAAS band for charge.

I have had multiple short periods of less than 7 days for the same issue – can I get a TDG?
Yes, if you have had 4 or more occurrences within a 12 month period which individually didn’t meet the 7 day criteria but which together have had a significant impact on you (e.g. repeated short term failures of the boiler) a TDG of 1 or 2 bands will be considered.

I have had multiple issues in my home – can I have a bigger TDG?
A maximum of 2 band TDG will be offered regardless of the number of issues in the home.

Can I apply for a TDG for my garage?
No, but it is possible to request to have it classed as “sub-standard” if it is not secure, undersized or weatherproof. If a repair to resolve the issues is reported and will take more than 7 days to resolve, a temporary change to “substandard” will be initiated.

How do I request a TDG?
In the first instance you should contact Pinnacle Home Services – all requests must include a start date and an end date and will only be backdated to the point of first reporting. The need to have an end date means that the majority of requests may need to be made AFTER the issue is resolved.

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08   SFA and garage charges 2022

Download the SFA and garage charges WEF April 2022.

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09   FAM geographically balanced rental allowance

New rates for the FAM private rental allowance have been released. The rates include a core payment and a geographic variation including a council tax adjustment.

See Annex C Rental Payment Bands – Entitlement in JSP 464 Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations Volume 4: Future Accommodation Model (FAM) Pilot – UK

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10   CILOCT

Contribution in lieu of council tax (CILOCT) is what all families living in SFA/SSFA or soldiers in SLA pay instead of council tax. CILOCT is collected by the MOD and then paid to the councils dependent on how many SFA/SLA are in their area. If you are posted abroad, you no longer pay CILOCT (as of 1 April 2016) as part of the enhanced overseas package.

Irrespective of normal entitlement to Service accommodation CILOCT will be always charged at a rate consistent with the accommodation charge. For example, Service personnel who occupy accommodation below their normal entitlement will pay a CILOCT appropriate to the type of accommodation occupied, not their normal entitlement. Similarly, Service personnel who voluntarily occupy accommodation above their normal entitlement will pay CILOCT appropriate to the type of property occupied and not to that of their normal entitlement

In common with council tax (CT) rules, a discount of 25 per cent is applicable to single adults living in SFA or the substitute equivalents who pay CILOCT. Personnel with a Personal Status Category (PStatCat) of 1s or 5s are not eligible for the discount unless the spouse or partner meets one or more of the criteria of paragraphs a to j. To qualify for a discount, an occupant must be living alone, or solely with people who fall into one of the following categories:

  • children under 18;
  • people on apprentice schemes;
  • 18 and 19-year-olds in full-time education;
  • full-time college and university students (but excluding Service personnel in receipt of their normal salary);
  • young people under 25 who get funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency;
  • student nurses;
  • foreign language assistants registered with the British Council;
  • people with a severe mental disability. To qualify for the concession, a doctor’s certificate must be provided to a suitably qualified person (not below OF3) to certify that the individual has a severe mental disability;
  • live-in carers who look after someone who isn’t their partner, spouse or child;
  • diplomats.

Service personnel who claim the 25 per cent CILOCT discount must give immediate notification of any changes of circumstances that may affect their eligibility for the discount.

With effect from 1 April 2024, daily rates of CILOCT are:

TYPE £ DAILY
I 8.71
II 8.29
III 7.88
IV 6.67
V 6.02
D 5.46
C 5.19
B 4.74
A 3.92

CILOCT FOR SLA

 RANK  £ DAILY
 Officers 0.65
 SNCOs 0.46
 Other Ranks 0.17
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11   Garage charges

Originally a garage that is less than 4.3 metres in length and/or 2.3 metres in width (internal measurements) and less than 2.5m high was deemed sub-standard; DIO has changed the height requirement to 1.85m clearance height (at entrance with the door open).

Why?

Well that is what we asked and were given this answer:

  • To ensure the policy was fair and reasonable to the Service person and the tax payer
  • 2.5m was a high entrance threshold and not industry standard
  • Interpretation of height was inconsistent – was it the door or ceiling to floor? Now it is clearance for a vehicle to enter
  • 1.85m was chosen as it is the clearance required for a Ford Galaxy & BMW X5

What to do

If you have questions on garage charges, contact our Housing team at housingsupport@aff.org.uk.

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12   How charges raised on move-out are collected in the UK

All charges for damages and deficiencies on SFA and SSFA in the UK are now recovered from the soldier’s pay – this is to reduce the time and costs involved with chasing those who don’t currently pay on time (or at all). See the Move In / Move Out page for full details.

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13   Universal Credit – housing costs element

Service personnel living in SFA may now include their housing costs within their Universal Credit claim. For more information, see the Benefits, National Insurance and Tax page.

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