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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jobcentre-plus-services-for-the-armed-forces-and-their-families/armed-forces-enhanced-access-to-jobcentre-plus-services-and-armed-forces-champions
DWP and the Armed Forces Covenant
As part of the Armed Forces Covenant, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has initiatives that help current and former members of the armed forces and their families access Jobcentre Plus services.
This includes having an armed forces champion in every Jobcentre Plus district who ensures that we provide support that meets the needs of the armed forces community.
This page explains the role of the armed forces champion and the way members of the armed forces and their families can access our services.
Armed forces champion
The armed forces champion focuses only on the Jobcentre Plus support available to:
- service leavers
- serving personnel currently within their resettlement period
- spouses and civil partners of currently serving and ex-service personnel
If you are having difficulty using our services please ask the Jobcentre Plus staff member that you are dealing with to speak to their Jobcentre Plus district armed forces champion.
The role of the armed forces champion is to:
- develop and maintain joint working arrangements between Jobcentre Plus and the armed forces community in their Jobcentre Plus district
- provide information to Jobcentre Plus staff about specific armed forces initiatives
- provide an understanding of the issues the forces community face that can be a barrier to employment
- be the first point of contact for Jobcentre Plus staff and services welfare and families staff to advise on queries regarding individual armed forces cases – including serving personnel, their families and veterans
- focus specifically on the Jobcentre Plus support available to service leavers, those within their resettlement period and spouses and civil partners of currently serving and ex-service personnel – where necessary and appropriate, the champions will work to put support in place
The champions work in partnership with the armed forces community and support organisations in their district, as well as local and national employers, to:
- identify work trials
- employment opportunities
- support service leavers and their families
They also work to raise the profile of the service community in terms of the skills, knowledge and experience they can offer, and work with colleagues to ease some of the barriers to work being faced by service families.
The champion will tailor their activities to match the needs of the armed forces community in their district. This means some activities may differ from district to district. The role and responsibilities of the champion remain the same regardless of location.
The champions are not customer facing. This means a service leaver could not walk into their local Jobcentre Plus office and expect their local champion to be based in that office. Instead, the champions maintain close contact with Jobcentre Plus advisers who make them aware of armed forces issues and raise issues with the champion if the customer requests it.
Each of the services has appointed points of contacts who form a link with the relevant champions within their area.
Members of the service community who wish to bring an issue to the attention of their local champion can do so either through their:
- nominated service focal point
- local Jobcentre Plus office
Employment and benefits initiatives
Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme
All former service personnel have access to the full range of Jobcentre Plus services. As well as this, a person who has served in the armed forces for any day within the last 3 years can be considered for early access to the Work Programme. Service leavers on the following benefits will be able to volunteer for the Work Programme at any point in their claim:
Benefit cap exemption
Receipt of the following exempt a recipient and household from the benefit cap:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and 3 month residence requirement
Service personnel who have served abroad are exempt from the 3 month residence requirement for claims for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance on arrival in the UK. From October 2015, this exemption was extended to service spouses or partners and children aged up to 21 returning from overseas.
This means that service spouses and partners and their adult children will be treated in the same way as returning service personnel and will be able to claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance immediately on arrival in the UK.
Armed forces spouse’s information
Pre-2010 armed forces credits
Military spouses and civil partners reaching State Pension age from 6 April 2016 will be able to apply for new National Insurance credits. This covers periods from 1975 that they have spent accompanying the member of armed forces on postings outside the UK.
The credit will be administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and help a person gain qualifying years that provide entitlement to the new State Pension. Read information about applying for the new credit.
National Insurance credits for spouses following a member of the armed forces overseas
In April 2010, an award of Class 1 National Insurance credits was introduced for service spouses and civil partners to cover periods where they accompanied a member of the armed forces posted overseas. The credits help protect the eligibility of service spouses and civil partners to the State Pension and contribution-based working-age benefits.
Easing the contribution conditions for spouses and partners of service personnel accompanying on overseas posting
In addition to the National Insurance credits award, an easement is in place to the first contribution condition for both:
- contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA (Cont))
- contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA (Cont))
This is for the spouses and civil partners of service personnel who have accompanied their spouse or civil partner on a posting outside the UK.
This will help these spouses and civil partners to claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance when they return to the UK.
Spouse and partner employment opportunities
The government is committed to providing appropriate support to the spouses or partners of service personnel. Partners of currently serving and ex-service personnel have access to the full range of Jobcentre Plus services. They can also be considered for early access to the Work Programme from 3 months into their claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Easing voluntary unemployment conditionality for spouses
It is Jobcentre Plus policy that spouses and partners of service personnel who leave employment to follow their partner will have ‘just cause’ for leaving that employment provided they did not leave earlier than was reasonably necessary in order to arrange the move. This means they should not be prevented from getting Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) on the grounds of voluntary unemployment. Jobcentre Plus should consider each case on an individual basis using the relevant legislation and the information provided by the person claiming JSA.
Maternity Allowance for spouses overseas
Spouses accompanying a service partner overseas are unable to claim Maternity Allowance from the UK. However, depending on where they live, they can either:
- claim the local nation’s maternity benefits
- apply for a Ministry of Defence (MOD) ex-gratia payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance
The correct process is to apply for Maternity Allowance in the normal way, ensuring section 7 of the form where it asks if you are a member of a service family abroad is completed.
When completed, the form should be sent to the International Pension Centre (IPC) to the address stated on the form (in part 13). The IPC will look at the case and take the appropriate action.
Foreign and Commonwealth personnel access to benefits
Access to benefits for dependants of Foreign and Commonwealth personnel
Dependants of serving Foreign and Commonwealth personnel (including Gurkhas) who are injured – including on operations or during training for operations – may not be able to access benefits like Carer’s Allowance if they do not qualify to settle in the UK.
Special provisions exist. This means if a Foreign or Commonwealth member of the armed forces is medically discharged as a result of an injury during their period of service, the requirement for them to have completed 4 years of service in order to qualify for settlement would normally be waived. However all other criteria would have to be met.
If appropriate, any dependants would have their application for settlement granted in line with that of the serving person.
Wounded, injured and sickness benefits
Access to benefits for medically discharged personnel
When a service medical board decides a severely disabled person can no longer be employed in the armed forces and should be discharged, DWP now uses the service medical board evidence to determine eligibility to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) rather than conduct a face to face medical assessment.
Claims received from members of the armed forces who have been assessed by a Ministry of Defence (MOD) medical panel to be in their highest disability category are, wherever possible, assessed to consider whether the individual meets the limited capability for work-related activity criteria based on the MOD medical report (F Med 23) and without the need for a face-to-face assessment.
This applies to the initial Work Capability Assessment for the ESA claim made at the time of discharge. In these cases the individual will be placed in the ESA support group.
Armed Forces Independence Payment
On 8 April 2013 the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in conjunction with DWP introduced the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP). This benefit is designed to:
- provide financial support to service personnel and veterans who have been seriously injured as a result of service
- help cover the extra costs they may have received as a result of their injury
AFIP eligibility is defined as those who have been awarded a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) of 50% or higher under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. DWP are responsible for making and maintaining payments. However, claimants for AFIP are required to submit a claim to Veterans UK. They will confirm eligibility with DWP who will put the payments in place.