Support and advice for the Armed Forces community

Armed forces

Information for the Armed Forces community - how you can be supported by the Armed Forces Covenant

Vertical Tabs

Benefits and financial advice

Benefits and financial advice

Benefits and Financial Advice for Armed Forces Community​​​

Whether you are currently serving, or have previously served in the Armed Forces, you may need some help with benefits and financial advice.

The Ministry of Defence has published a helpful guide on financial top tips for service personnel to ensure they get a fair deal when they need to access financial services.

The MOD have produced information on financial and pension advice and support services for the defence personnel and families.

For full details of benefit support available from your local Council, including recent changes to Welfare Benefits, please see the webpage: Council Tax and Benefits

Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax support 

War Disablement Pension, War Widow’s Pension or War Widower’s Pension will not be taken into account when calculating income for Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax support.

Universal Credit

www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk helps people find out what benefits they should be claiming, and provides more detail about how Universal Credit can help them move into, or progress in, work.

To Claim Universal Credit www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

Freephone Helpline: 0800 3285644

Council Tax discounts and exemptions

If you are a member of the Armed Forces and your property is deemed to be your sole or main residence, if your absence is a result of your service you will be eligible for a 50% job related discount.

To access support relating to benefits and financial advice, see the following links:

Discretionary Housing Payment - A fund aimed at helping people who find themselves in a crisis. If you're leaving or have just left the Armed Forces, and are moving in to new accommodation then the fund may be able to help with housing costs. DHP's cannot be awarded to help towards Council Tax liability or costs.

Moneyforce - The home of money advice for UK Service personnel and their families. It includes an innovative budget planner, car cost calculator and credit forecaster.

Joining Forces - Three credit unions working together to provide savings accounts and loans to the armed forces and their families.

The Royal British Legion -Offers a range of financial assistance services, including benefits and money advice, grants and loans. If you have a compensation claim arising from your Service the Legion can help you through the process under the War Pensions Scheme or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The nearest Pop-In Centre is based at 133 High Street, Colchester, CO1 1SP.

SSAFA - A national charity that provides support to thousands of Armed Forces personnel and their families. The local branch can be contacted at Essex@ssafa.org.uk.

Citizens Advice - Provide guidance and advice on a whole range of issues.

The GOV.UK website - Provides a comprehensive list of potential benefits entitlement.

Veterans Gateway - Gives access to a network of organisations, making it easy for veterans and their families to connect with the help, advice and support needed from their first point of contact.

Veterans UK - Provides a full range of information for people injured, disabled or bereaved by the service, including details of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, War Disablement Pensions and Armed Forces Pensions.

The Army Families Federation (AFF) - Independent of the Army and offers confidential advice on a range of welfare issues including money matters and family life. AFF works at a local level directly with families and local command.

Other local organisations that can provide benefit and financial advice include: 

Christians Against Poverty - Service passionate about releasing people from a life sentence of debt, poverty and their causes.

Open Door, Colchester - A café-style drop-in centre which welcomes without judgement anyone who needs help or wants someone to talk to.

Colchester HIVE - Army Welfare Service: This blog aims to provide local information to all service personnel and their families.

Troopscout provides promotional discounts on many major UK retailers and services. These discounts are exclusively for members of the Armed Forces and their families. Troopscout is free to use and can offer savings on major brands such as Travelzoo, Bloom and Wild, New Balance, Ray Ban, Under Armour.

How businesses are helping to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant

Here’s a useful summary of the businesses helping the Armed Forces community with mortgages, motor insurance, broadband, media packages and mobile phone contracts:   Businesses Helping deliver the Armed Forces Covenant

Defence Discount Service

If you are a member of the Armed Forces community you are eligible for a Defence Privilege Card, at a cost of less than £1.00 a year.   Visit the Defence Discount Service website to find out how you can start saving now on high street and online purchases.  www.defencediscountservice.co.uk

Health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing

Priority Healthcare for Veterans

“From 1 January 2008, all veterans should receive priority access to NHS secondary care for any conditions which are likely to be related to their service, subject to the clinical needs of all patients.”   (Source: NHS Choices, 2015)

Families and Veterans should not be disadvantaged when accessing health services.  Changes have been made to the NHS Constitution in England to embed the principles of the Covenant.  For example if on a waiting list in one area, and then reposted, that time already spent on a waiting list should be considered by the receiving health authority.  This applies to all treatment for physical, dental and mental issues under the NHS.

Whilst serving in the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence takes responsibility for general medical healthcare. Upon leaving the Armed Forces ex-service personnel will need to register with a GP on the NHS.

To access healthcare services, as well as local support for achieving a healthy lifestyle, see links below:

Urgent medical help

If you need urgent medical help but it’s not a 999 emergency, call the NHS on 111, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. 

Healthcare

NHS Choices provides healthcare information for the Armed Forces Community, including service personnel, reservists, families and veterans.

Essex Connects is the place to find local activities and to help you to get in touch with hundreds of local charities, voluntary groups, and community sector services across Essex including Braintree, Colchester and Tendring.

Mental Wellbeing

NHS Veterans Mental Health Transition, Liaison and Intervention Service (TILS) - Armed forces personnel approaching discharge can get treatment and support, and thereafter into their civilian life, whether it is months or years later. Midlands and East Veterans Service  (covering West Midlands, East Midlands, North Essex and East Anglia) - 01206 228774

Combat Stress is the UK's leading veterans' mental health charity providing free treatment and support 24 hours a day - 0800 138 1619. 

Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds provides confidential support delivered by psychological wellbeing practitioners, often over the phone or on Skype, so that you can easily access support from all around the country - 0808 2020 144. 

Mental Health Matters - 0800 107 0160

Big White Wall provides online mental wellbeing support 24/7.  Safe, anonymous and has Wall Guides (counsellors) available 24/7.  Free to serving personnel, veterans and their families - www.bigwhitewall.com - 0207 060 1677

Healthy Lifestyle

Livewell is a campaign that promotes healthy messages and aims to support residents to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.  Find out more about what is happening locally with information, local initiatives, campaigns and things to do that will benefit health.

Tom Harrison House is a specialist facility providing an addiction recovery programme exclusively to military veterans, reservists, serving personnel and their families.  12 week programme – supported accommodation for the programme duration in a dedicated recovery house.   Website:  www.tomharrisonhouse.org.uk   Tel:  0151 909 8481

Local - Further Help

Colchester Mind support for those who are stressed, depressed or in crisis.

Chavasse VC House Recovery Centre aims to inspire those who have been wounded, injured or become sick whilst serving our country, to enable them to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives. The Centre has been specially designed to offer the very best recovery atmosphere. It offers 27 single en-suite bedrooms and two family suites.  Centre promotes general wellbeing, and residents are encouraged to undertake their own recovery programme under the guidance of specialist staff. It may involve educational courses, work placements, medical appointments or sporting activities. These activities are designed to improve personal independence, raise morale, and develop camaraderie with others who have been injured or become sick.   Telephone: 01206 814880 | 01206 815838  Email: chavassevc@helpforheroes.org.uk

Respite Breaks

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion provides families of serving and ex-Service personnel the chance to take a break and get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

The Legion owns and operates four Break Centres in England and Northern Ireland, and make use of Parkdean Resorts, Haven and Center Parcs holiday parks around the UK.   Follow link for criteria and how to apply:  Family Holiday Breaks

See also:   Veterans Support Directory further down this page.

Forcesline 

Free and 100% confidential helpline that provides a supportive, listening and signposting service for serving personnel, former members of the Armed Forces and their families. 

Contact:  0800 731 4880 (Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.30) or fill out their online form

Jobs, employment and skills

Jobs, employment and skills

When posted overseas

When serving personnel are posted abroad, spouses may need to give up their jobs to move with them.

Spouses, civil partners and dependents can claim income based Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit as soon as they return to the UK after accompanying service personnel working abroad.  The rule requiring them to be resident for 3 months before being eligible to claim no longer applies.

The Government has now introduced an MOD NI credit scheme so that spouses/civil partners accompanying their spouses on an overseas assignment can claim Class 3 Contributions towards their state pension whilst they are abroad.

Department for Work and Pensions

Find out how the DWP’s enhanced access to Jobcentre Plus services might affect you. Locally the Jobcentre Plus Armed Forces Champion is Donna Lehain donna.lehain@dwp.gov.uk

If you have been seriously injured as a result of service, you may be entitled to the Armed Forces Independence Payment

Jobs, employment and skills information

Information on jobs, employment and skills can also be found through the following links:

The Career Transition Partnership provides successful resettlement services for those leaving the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Marines. They also act as an intermediary service for employers wishing to hire Service leavers.

MOD Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme - Promotes lifelong learning amongst members for the armed forces. Provides financial support for pursuit of higher level learning.

The Army Families Federation (AFF) is independent of the Army and offers confidential advice on a range of welfare issues including money matters and family life.

Regular Forces Employment Association - Helps men and women of all ranks, leaving the armed forces to find and to remain in employment throughout their working lives.

The Royal British Legion - Provides details of getting into work after leaving the forces including training, job vacancies, interview preparation and a guide to starting your own business

Recruit for Spouses - Help for military spouses to get into work or start their own business

Locally, Colchester Institute, a vocational college have launched Building Heroes which provides skills training to Military Veterans and support into employment in the building trades.

Forces Families Jobs (FFJ) - Forces Families Jobs is the go-to place for training and employment for family members of currently serving UK military personnel.  #

Project Nova - Supporting veterans who have been arrested or are at risk of arrest. Operating in four areas of the UK. The East of England, North West, North East and South Yorkshire and Humberside.

Bursary to get Veterans into Teaching

A government bursary of £40,000 is available for ex-service personnel to retrain as teachers. Courses are available at universities nationwide from September onwards for those who have left full-time employment in the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force within the last 5 years.  The bursary has been developed as part of the Department for Education’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.  Undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, maths, computing and modern foreign languages will be prioritised.

For further information: New Bursary to get Veterans into Teaching

Working for yourself

Enterprise Allowance - Jobcentre Plus has developed a new enterprise allowance to help people become self-employed. Applicants must be claiming Jobseekers Allowance for a minimum of 13 weeks and not be on the work programme.

Business is Great Britain - Start up loans scheme offers loans of around £2,500, as well as access to expert support to help develop a business plan.

GOV.UK - Can offer an on-line service to support new business start-up, and help existing businesses expand and improve. The website has many sources of information to assist businesses including links to training and seminars.

HM Revenue & Customs Tax guide - Support for people who are going self-employed.

Volunteering

Once you have left the Armed Forces you may be able to make time to volunteer. You can make positive changes to people's lives whilst developing your own skills at the same time.  Contact Community Voluntary Services Tendring to find out more.

Schools and education

Schools and education

Armed Forces Pupil Premiums

The National Armed Forces Covenant is working with the Department for Education to ensure the best use of the Service Pupil Premium of £300 that schools receive for each service child they have.

The money can be spent in a number of ways such as extra inductions or assessment support for Armed Forces children. For further information please get in touch with your child’s school.

School Admissions

The Covenant recognises that frequent moves can cause problems with access to schools.

The School Admissions Code in England and Wales has been changed to support Service families, who can apply and be allocated a place before they move into the area.  Children can be accepted mid-term, and class sizes may be increased beyond the norm to accommodate them.

The law requires, where families are not yet resident in the area, but are able to evidence proof of posting, we treat them as living within catchment for the schools. 

If you've served in the Armed Forces and need some help finding a school for your family this link may help you: Essex Schools Admission

​​​Other useful links

School Admissions Code

Service Pupil Premium (GOV.UK)

Service Children in State Schools Handbook (GOV.UK)

Moving Schools Pack: service family guide (GOV.UK)

Scholarship for Military Bereaved Children

Housing

Housing

Ways of Finding a Home

Serving Personnel

Whether you are living on or off base, renting or thinking about buying a home, there is advice and support available to you. 

Veterans

Whether you are renting or thinking about buying a home, there is advice and support available to you. 

Own your own home provides a range of schemes that make home-buying more affordable.

Council Support to Find a Home  Whether you own your own home, rent it privately, from the Council or Housing Association.

Other organisations

Further links to organisations who may be able to help provide information on finding a home for you or your family:

Advice and support from the British Legion - The Royal British Legion provides advocacy and assists them with a range of issues in addition to housing advice, for example finance and health.

Citizens Advice - Housing options for people leaving the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

The MOD Army - provides subsidised accommodation for its servicemen and women. Visit their website for details of service personnel entitlement to service accommodation and removals for personal possessions on assignment to a new area.

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) - offers advice and assistance to anyone eligible for their help, whether they are serving or ex-service, or a family member of someone with a service connection. The SSAFA also provide housing and residential home facilities.

Veterans Gateway - gives access to a network of organisations, making it easy for veterans and their families to connect with the help, advice and support they need from their first point of contact.

Veterans UK - provides advice regarding the help available to ex-service personnel who are homeless or are threatened with homelessness.

SPACES - Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services, SPACES, is a housing advice and placement service for veterans. SPACES targets the most vulnerable of Service leavers, regardless of rank, length of service, or reason for discharge.

Haig Housing - Housing provider for ex-Service personnel in the UK, owns over 1500 properties across 50 locations.  Endeavours to help any veterans in housing need, whether they are transitioning into civilian life or are simply in need of a helping hand.  Website: www.haighousing.org.uk  Tel:  0208 685 5777

Shelter - Provide expert advice to help you deal with your housing difficulties.

Launchpad  Charity providing affordable supported rental accommodation with onsite support to veterans of all ages and their partners. Accommodation in Newcastle and Liverpool, provides a base from which residents can successful make the transition to civilian life.  Accepts veterans with complex issues which can be resolved over a max of 2 years.  Website: www.veteranslaunchpad.org.uk   Tel:  0300 1111 238

Alabare Homes for Veterans   Charity provide temporary accommodation to British Armed Forces Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. 24 homes across England and Wales, providing 110 bed spaces.  Website: www.alabare.co.uk/homes-services  Tel: 01722 322 882

Additional Local Support

One Support - Helping homeless people to move on to secure homes and a more stable future.

Handy Van Service – Poppy Calls

Tel: 0800 032 0306, email: homesupportadmin@britishlegion.org.uk

The Legion's handy van service, Poppy Calls, helps ex-Service people and their families with small household repairs and minor adaptations.

If you're having trouble with those small household repairs and minor adaptations around your home and are one of our beneficiaries, the Royal British Legion can provide our handy van service known as Poppy Calls.

We have a dedicated and trusted team of experienced handypeople who are fully trained to carry out low-level maintenance in your home, including:

  • Changing light bulbs and tap washers
  • Putting up shelves, curtain rails and grab rails
  • Fitting smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Fitting and changing door locks and other security features
  • Building access ramps and storage sheds to house Legion-provided Electrically Propelled Vehicles
  • Installing care phones.

Tendring District Council Housing Allocations Policy

Housing Adaptations - Disabled Facilities Grant

If a disability is making life difficult for you, or someone living in your house, then you may be entitled to help in the form of a grant or an interest-free loan.   Your Council can help you to access the Disabled Facilities Grants      

Home owners, tenants, occupiers of house boats and park homes, and landlords can apply for this mandatory grant towards the cost of adapting a home to meet the needs of a disabled person.  Applications will only be considered where an occupational therapy assessment has been received. 

The maximum cost of works covered by the grant is £30,000 and depending on the disabled person's financial circumstances, there may be a contribution to make. 

The works can include:

  • Access to and from the home, including the gardens.  For example ramps, pathways and handrails.
  • Making the home safe for the disabled occupant, and others living there.
  • Access to rooms used as a family room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom.  This can include widening, re-positioning or re-siting doors. Tracking, stair lifts and through floor lifts.
  • Adaptations to toilets, and bathing and washing facilities.  For example wet rooms and specialised toilets.
  • Kitchen alterations to enable the disabled occupant to prepare snacks during the day, and sometimes specialised cookers, ovens, work surfaces and sink units.
  • Improving heating to the rooms and areas normally used by the disabled occupant.
  • Controlling sources of power, heat and light by altering the position of, or providing extra, controls.

There may be other works which can be included and we will always advise you.

If an applicant cannot meet their assessed contribution for a DFG the Council and Essex Social Services will explore the available funding options.

Who to contact

Before any Disabled Facilities Grant can go forward you need to know whether the proposed works are suitable.  You should contact Social Care Direct at Essex County Council on 0345 603 7630.  If their assessment identifies eligible works then they will send us a copy of the Occupational Therapist's recommendations with a request that we offer financial assistance in the form of a grant or loan.

Last updated on: 03/11/2021 - 12:27