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Armed Forces Resettlement Grants

Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many applications for armed forces resettlement grants have been refused on the basis of age-related eligibility in the last five years; (291707)

(2) when he next plans to review the age criteria for eligibility for armed forces resettlement grants;

(3) for what reasons service in the armed forces before the age of 18 does not count for gratuity purposes.

Age related criteria for the resettlement grant only apply to those service leavers who are members of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 75 and there are no plans to review this at present. Under AFPS 75 there is a time served eligibility criterion of nine years from the age of 21 and for other ranks 12 years service from the age of 18. If these criteria are satisfied payment is made as soon after a discharge date as possible. No application for a resettlement grant is required, although a form is completed to confirm where payment is to be made. As a consequence none have been declined.

Reckonable service for other ranks was deemed to be from the date of joining or the age of 18 whichever is the latest. Historically, those who joined the armed forces under the age of 18 were boy soldiers, sailors, airmen or apprentices. They had rights to discharge prior to their 18th birthday different to those who were older. Conversion to reckonable service took place automatically for those that were serving on their 18th birthday. For officers, reckonable service commenced from age 21 to reflect the career pattern of those that normally joined after university. Like other ranks, officers who joined under the age of 21 had different conditions of service which automatically transferred to reckonable service on reaching their 21st birthday.

Following the introduction of Armed Forces Pension Scheme 05 on 6 April 2005, service personnel were given the option to transfer from AFPS 75 to the new scheme. For those that did and all new joiners to the armed forces, regardless of age, reckonable service commences from the date of joining. The time served criteria for resettlement grant of 12 years now applies to both groups and is widely accepted to be much fairer.