Families offer considerable support to those serving, or those who have served in the armed forces. There are specific initiatives under the Armed Forces Covenant to support family life in the armed forces and for veteran families.

Some policies will apply to you and others will not. This section will direct you to the right place on GOV.UK and other trusted resources so that you can see what is available.

A soldier returned safely from Afghanistan, heads home with his family.
A soldier returned safely from Afghanistan, heads home with his family.
Soldiers from B (Rorke’s Drift) Company, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

Areas where support is available include:

Supporting children and education

Part of a quality family life is supporting your children and their education, wherever you are and whenever you move.

There are several links to advice on ways to help maintain service children’s education on GOV.UK.

The Service Pupil Premium provides extra funding to state schools, free schools and academies attended by service children in England.

The School Admissions Code provides specific information on the school admissions process for service families. This can be found at paragraph 2.18 of the Code. In addition, if returning from overseas, you can apply for school places for your children in advance.

Wales: There is a dedicated website for service children’s education in Wales.

Scotland: The MOD has published guidance on education in Scotland.

The Bereavement Scholarship Scheme is available to provide university and further education scholarships for the children of service personnel whose death has been attributed to service since 1990. Scholarships available for further education under the scheme now include programmes of study below A Levels. You can apply on the GOV.UK website.

Find out whether your family could benefit from MOD childcare vouchers.

Tax-Free Childcare is being made available to working families across the UK and over time it will replace childcare vouchers, which will close to new entrants from April 2018. Voucher schemes remain open to existing members. The scheme gradually began to be available to different age groups from 28 April 2017 with all eligible parents being able to access the scheme by the end of 2017. Information about the new and existing offers, including the introduction of 30 hours free childcare from September 2017 for eligible working parents, is available at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

MOD personnel based within the UK will have the same access to these new Childcare Choices as any other citizen. Since 2013 the MOD has been working to ensure that these changes to childcare choices can be mirrored, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, for entitled MOD personnel based outside the UK. Full details of the required changes or additions to MOD policies will be published shortly, once the changes have been published on the Government’s Childcare Choices webpage. Alternatively, email:DCYP-DCYP-Mailbox@mod.uk for further information.

This leaflet compares the differences between Tax-Free Childcare and Childcare Vouchers.

An Additional Needs and Disability Guide has been created for service families by the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (‘FANDF’) Committee and the SSAFA Additional Needs and Disability Advisor.

One of the many services SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provides is a national registered adoption agency, supporting members of the armed forces who wish to create a family through adoption. SSAFA understand the needs of military adopters and this is the only service of its kind in the UK. SSAFA welcomes applications from all members of the serving community and those who have left the armed forces in the last 3 years. SSAFA have produced a useful leaflet called ‘Thinking about adoption‘.

For more information, email the SSAFA adoption team, call on 020 7463 9326 or visit their website.

The Children’s Society, who are undertaking NHS England-funded national programmes of work looking at the needs of young carers in armed forces families have produced a report following a pilot programme delivered in Hampshire and Wiltshire, where 29% of military personnel are currently located. The project looked at how caring responsibilities may negatively affect this group of young people’s health, well-being and education, and to identify challenges they face in accessing support and good practice support.

Having access to healthcare

Having access to modern and advanced clinical care is essential. The National Health Service (NHS),  Ministry of Defence (MOD), charities and welfare organisations are working together to provide this, wherever you are.

Find out about healthcare through the NHS for the armed forces families.

MOD and Department of Health support services information can be found on GOV.UK.

Get healthcare advice for you and your family when relocating within the UK or returning home from an overseas posting.

Mental health support for the armed forces community can be found on GOV.UK and NHS Choices. The NHS can also provide mental health support through the Big White Wall service. This service is available for free to serving personnel, veterans and their families.

The Ministry of Defence has launched the defence people mental health and wellbeing strategy. It provides a renewed focus on promotion of mental health wellbeing and the prevention of mental ill health for serving personnel, veterans, families and MOD civil servants.

Having a home

Having a comfortable home is an important part of your well-being. Whether you are living on or off base, renting or thinking about buying a home, there is advice and support available to you. 

With the Forces Help to Buy scheme your family can borrow up to £25,000 interest free over 10 years to help create a deposit for a new home.

Another way to get financial help is through the government’s affordable home ownership schemes.

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

The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides serving personnel and their dependants with civilian housing information for those wishing to move to civilian accommodation at any time in their career, and for those during resettlement to assist with the transition to civilian life.

The Scottish Government have created a Veterans Portal which provides information on services for transitioning service personnel and their families and those currently serving who are considering living in Scotland in the future.

Getting financial advice

Managing your money now and the future can be confusing for any of us, but you can get get advice and support specific to those in the armed forces community. 

Find out more about financial and pension advice and support services for the defence personnel and families that you may be able to take advantage of.

The Ministry of Defence has published a helpful guide on financial top tips for service personnel. It provides service personnel with advice on getting a fair deal when they need to access financial services.

The Armed Forces Railcard offers your family up to 1/3 off rail fares. Spouses/partners of currently serving armed forces personnel can sign up for the Defence Discount Service.

Joining Forces is 3 credit unions working together to provide savings accounts and loans to the armed forces and their families.

The British Insurers Brokers’ Association have published on their website a list to highlight which of companies which   policies which tailored to the armed forces community.

We have put together a useful summary of businesses who offer support to the Armed Forces community with mortgages, motor insurance, broadband, media packages, and mobile phones. Click on the link to find out more.


Supporting spouse/partner careers and education

Supporting spouses and partners aspirations is also part of the covenant, as we recognise the importance of family within the armed forces community.

Organisations who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant have made their own commitments to supporting reservists, spouses and veterans. Find Forces friendly employers in your area.

The Spouse Employment Support Trial is designed to help support eligible spouses in finding employment that matches their skills, knowledge and experience.

There are various initiatives under DWP’s enhanced access to Jobcentre Plus services that may benefit you. 

You may be able to claim National Insurance credits for time spent accompanying your partner abroad.

As a spouse / partner of serving personnel, you can be considered for early access to the Work Programme which provides support, work experience and training for up to 2 years to help people find and stay in work. Those who have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 3 month are eligible. 

You can nominate your employer or an organisation for a silver or gold award under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) which encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same.

The College of Policing have published updated vetting guidance so spouses and dependants of service personnel will no longer fail the residency requirements due to time spent overseas when applying to work for the Police Service.

Families Federations

Each service has an independent Families Federation which can offer you support and advice. They work with your service and every level of government as your advocate.

Families Federations meet regularly with key government departments including Department of Work and Pensions, Department of Education, Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence to review issues that are affecting the serving and family community. If you have concerns please get in touch with these organisations.

Naval Families Federation (Royal Navy and Royal Marines)

Army Families Federation

Royal Air Force Families Federation

Support groups

Find out about the Family Support Groups available to you and your family.

Have your say

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