It goes without saying that serving in the armed forces comes with its challenges as well as advantages. The are differences in terms of living and day-to-day costs, as well as the kinds of financial support and benefits that you and your family may be eligible for.
There are a whole range of benefits that are provided specifically for service personnel, veterans and their families. In addition, there are civilian benefits that you may also be able to claim.
You can find a basic overview here of the types of financial help that might be available to you and your immediate family. Bear in mind that every situation is unique, though so use this as a starting point. Because of this, for detailed advice you should speak to your padre, commanding officer, or one of a number of armed forces charities that provide guidance and support.
Service personnel and their families are often eligible for many of the same benefits available to civilians. Because of this, it is always worth speaking to someone about your situation. An advisor can help you to understand what benefits you might be eligible for, and to make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to.
- Child Benefit
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Personal Independence Payment
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Jobseekers Allowance
- tax credits
Living or being based outside of the UK usually has implications for the pay and allowances you receive from the armed forces, as well as for tax. Despite this, there are some UK benefits that you may still be able to claim:
- Maternity Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseekers Allowance (in certain European Union countries only)
If you are refused a benefit you think you should get, you can contact the Royal British Legion.
- Legionline: 08457 725 725 (open Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm)
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk.
If you are serving abroad, or have done in the past, you may be able to get a refund on your council tax. These payments are issued at the end of your time abroad, based on the number of days you were overseas.
You might be eligible for this if you paid:
- council tax on a property in the UK, orcontributions instead of council tax for service family accommodation
If you have served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq you should receive payments covering any period of service abroad since 1 October 2007. If you were deployed in the following locations from 1 February 2008, you should receive payments:
- British Forces South Atlantic Islands
- Diego Garcia
- Royal Navy Ships in receipt of Deployment Welfare Package (Overseas)
- United Nations Operations.
If you were deployed in Libya from 1 July 2011, you should receive payments covering any period of service abroad.
If you are currently serving in the Armed Forces, you may be able to claim an allowance to help pay for your child’s boarding school fees. To find our more about this, you can get more information from the Children’s Education Advisory Service. Their contact details are:
Helpline: 01980 618244 (8.30am – 3.30pm Monday to Friday)
Email: [email protected]
You can buy childcare vouchers to pay for the care of your child, and because these are free from tax and national insurance, you can make big savings on the cost of childcare. After you register for the Armed Forces childcare voucher scheme, the cost is taken from your pay every month. Moreover, the vouchers can be used for nursery care, summer camps for teenagers, boarding school fees and other childcare costs.
Finally, you can find more information about childcare and school fees on the Ministry of Defence Childcare website. www.modchildcare.co.uk.
Other discounts and financial perks
People serving in the Armed Forces, husbands, wives and dependant children can buy the HM Forces Railcard, giving you 1/3 off most rail fares throughout the UK for a year.
You can find more information about the Forces Railcard on the HM Forces Railcard website at: www.hmforces-railcard.co.uk.
Defence Discount Service
The Defence Discount Service is the official discount service of the Ministry of Defence, and runs the Defence Privilege Card scheme. This Card is available free of charge, and provides discounts online and on the high street.
More about the Defence Discount Card