Benefits and concessions for the armed forces, veterans and their families
This information applies to:
- people who are serving in the armed forces
- people who used to serve in the armed forces (veterans)
- the dependants of people serving in the armed forces and veterans
There are many different kinds of financial help available for people in the armed forces, veterans and their families.
You can use this information to find out what financial help might be available to you, depending on your situation. You can also use this information to find details of organisations that might be able to help you further.
Veterans, people serving in the armed forces and their dependants have a range of financial help available to help them. This can include:
- benefits in the UK
- benefits abroad
- Council Tax Relief
- help with school fees
- help with childcare costs
- free and reduced travel costs
Veterans, people serving in the armed forces and their dependants may be able to claim a range of benefits in the UK. These include:
- Universal Credit
- Child Benefit
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Personal Independence Payment
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Jobseekers Allowance
- tax credits
You can use a benefit calculator to check what benefits you can get. You’ll need to know details about your:
- income - including any earnings or benefits
- rent and living costs
- savings and investments
If you are a veteran living abroad, or you are serving in the armed forces abroad, you and your dependants may still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. You may 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 for help to appeal. Contact:
You may be able to get a tax-free relief payment for your council tax or contributions you pay instead of council tax. You may be able to get a relief payment if you are serving abroad in the armed forces and pay:
- council tax on a property in the UK, or
- contributions instead of council tax for service family accommodation
Payments are issued at the end of your time abroad. They are based on the number of days served abroad.
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 covering any period of service abroad:
- 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.
Armed forces pensions
If you are claiming a war pension, or a war widow or widower pension and you are moving abroad, you should get advice on your pension.
You can get advice from Veterans UK. Their contact details are:
Telephone from the UK: 0808 1914218
Telephone from abroad: + 44 1 253 866043
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. You can get more information from the Children's Education Advisory Service. Their contact details are:
You can buy childcare vouchers to pay for the care of your child. As these are free from tax and national insurance, you can make big savings on the cost of childcare. If you register for the armed forces childcare voucher scheme the cost of the vouchers is taken from your pay every month. The vouchers can be used to pay for nursery care, summer camps for teenagers, boarding school fees and many other childcare costs.
You can find more information and application forms on childcare and school fees on the Ministry of Defence Childcare website at: www.modchildcare.co.uk.
The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Travel organises visits to cemeteries, battlefields and memorials across the world. Details of future tours can be found on the website at www.poppytravel.org.uk.
Financial help from the Government is available to war widows and widowers who wish to visit their spouse’s grave or war memorial. This only applies to those who lost a husband or wife overseas before 1967.
For more details, contact Poppy Travel: 01622 716 729.
Veterans travel in London
You can apply to join the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme in London if you are:
- a veteran getting financial help under the War Pensions Scheme
- a veteran getting regular financial help under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
- a war widow or war widower getting financial help from the War Pensions or Armed Forces Compensation Schemes
Under the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme, you will be issued with an Oyster photocard. You can use this to travel free at any time within London on the bus, underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), tram and London overground services.
You can find out more information about this scheme by contacting Transport for London. Their contact details are:
Helpline: 0845 331 9872 (open Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 5.00pm)
Service personnel and veterans bus travel
Seriously injured service personnel and seriously injured veterans are entitled to a free bus pass and free local bus travel at any time within Wales.
More information about the help available for service personnel and veterans in Wales is available on the Welsh Government website at: wales.gov.uk.
Blue Badge Scheme
You may be eligible for a Blue Badge if you are a disabled veteran or a member of the armed forces.
If you are currently in the armed forces and are no longer resident the UK, you or a member of your household can apply to the Ministry of Defence for a blue badge. If you've kept your UK residency, you should apply to your local authority.
For more information about the war disablement pension, see Pension and compensation schemes for the armed forces, veterans and their families.
For more information about eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme, see who is eligible for a blue badge.
You can find more information on the Blue Badge scheme on the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.
People serving in the armed forces, husbands, wives and dependant children can buy the HM Forces Railcard. This gives you 1/3 off most rail fares throughout the UK for a year.
War widows or widowers and their dependants who are getting an armed forces pension are also eligible for a railcard.
You can find more information about the forces railcard, including how much it costs and the savings you can make, on the HM Forces Railcardwebsite at: www.hmforces-railcard.co.uk.
If you are a war widow or widower you can apply for a railcard through the Royal British Legion. Contact:
Veterans cannot apply for this railcard.
People serving in the armed forces, veterans and their families can get discounts for many goods and services.
You can find out more about the discounts available from the Defence Discount Service website at www.defencediscountservice.co.uk.
Seafarers' Advice & Information Line (SAIL)
SAIL is a UK-wide Citizens Advice service dedicated to serving and veteran Royal Navy personnel and their families. They offer free benefits advice and support.
Seafarers' Advice & Information Line (SAIL)
Phone: free on 0800 160 1842 (Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm - or you can leave a message outside these hours)
Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion can offer advice to the armed forces, veterans and their families on many issues, including money matters.
Their contact details are:
SSAFA is an independent charity offering advice to people in the armed forces, veterans and their families on many issues, including welfare advice, housing and healthcare.
The charity also runs a free helpline and email service that provides support and advice on many issues.
Their contact details are:
Veterans UK, which is an Agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), is the sole Government-funded source of help and advice for veterans. Its website has a lot of useful information for veterans and their families, including on welfare support and other specialist support programmes that are available to veterans. It also provides links to many other veterans organisations.
Veterans UK also runs a free helpline for veterans, which gives advice on many topics.
The contact details of Veterans UK are:
Ministry of Defence
Veterans Helpline: 0808 1914218
Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 169 3458
You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.