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Social Security Benefits: Armed Forces

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance her Department has issued on the treatment in the benefits system of (a) current members of the armed forces, (b) spouses and immediate family members of members of the armed forces and (c) former members of the armed forces. (316487)

The Department for Work and Pensions and its executive agencies take into account an individual’s circumstances as a matter of course, including current and former service personnel and their families.

The Service Command Paper ‘The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans’ [Cm 7424] published in July 2008 contained a number of departmental commitments to further support service personnel families and former members of the armed forces. These included an agreement to use service medical board evidence when considering entitlement to Employment Support Allowance (supporting guidance was issued to Jobcentre Plus staff in October 2009) and the Department’s commitment to award Class 1 National Insurance Credits to spouses and civil partners of service personnel posted overseas with effect from April 2010. This will enable more members of service personnel families to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and basic State Pension. Staff in my Department are currently working with colleagues in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Ministry of Defence to produce guidance on this for our staff and customers. This will include producing a customer fact sheet, providing advice to go into the packs given to members of Her Majesty’s forces when a posting outside the UK is about to end and making information, including the application form for the credits, available online via the Department for Work and Pensions and Ministry of Defence websites. The addresses are:

General guidance on the application and interpretation of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance rules for our Decision Makers can be found in the Decision Makers Guide. A copy of the Guide is available in the Library and on the Department for Work and Pensions’ website at:

Following the Home Office announcement last year that all Gurkhas who retired before 1 July 1997 with four years service would be able to settle in the UK, the Pension, Disability and Carers Service has been working with other Government Departments on plans for their arrival.

Internal guidance is being prepared for issue shortly to Pension, Disability and Carers Service staff to help them respond to the needs of ex-Gurkhas.

In the calculation of entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit, a mandatory £10 disregard of income from war pensions (war disablement pension, a pension to a war widow or war widower or a similar pension paid to a surviving civil partner), applies. In addition, local authorities have discretionary powers to disregard some or all of any income from war pensions, including service attributable pensions, once the mandatory disregard of £10 has been made. It is a matter for each authority to decide the extent to which they apply the additional disregard. We have recently issued guidance clarifying that service attributable pensions fall to be disregarded under the discretionary powers.