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Service Personnel (Deaths)

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial and other assistance is available to the families of servicemen who have died in combat or training; if he plans to increase support; what assistance is available to non-married partners of servicemen; and if he will make a statement. [110024]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 3 April 2003, Official Report, columns 781–82W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) and to my written ministerial statement of 20 March 2003, Official Report, column 54WS.The proposals for the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme would result in substantial improvements in benefits for family and dependents. This will be achieved at no additional cost through re-balancing the benefits elsewhere in the scheme. The new arrangements would not, however, be introduced before 2005–06.With regard to wider assistance, on the repatriation of a deceased Service person to the United Kingdom, facilities are made available to host close relatives and associates who wish to attend the arrival of the aircraft and any accompanying ceremony. A package of allowances is available for the family which includes travel and subsistence costs.Familes of Service personnel who occupy Service family accommodation are able to stay in the accommodation for as long as they feel they need to assess their longer-term housing requirements.Where children are at boarding school, boarding school allowance (BSA) continues for the school term immediately following the date on which the death occurs, provided that there is a liability to pay boarding school fees for that term. When the child has embarked on and is within two years of taking GCSE or GCE A Level examination or an academic equivalent, BSA will continue up to and including the term in which the examination is taken.In every case an officer is appointed to provide wider emotional and administrative support and assistance to the family in the following days and months. There is no time limit on this support, which continues for as long as necessary.