Benefits and benefits for the armed forces, veterans and their families (2023)

About this information

This information relates to:

  • people who serve in the armed forces
  • persons who served in the armed forces (defenders)
  • dependents of persons serving in the armed forces and veterans

There are many different types of financial assistance available to service members, veterans and their families.

You can use this information to find out what financial help may be available to you, depending on your situation. You can also use this information to find details of organizations that may be able to help you further.

What financial aid is available?

Veterans, people serving in the armed forces and their dependents have a range of financial assistance available. This may include:

  • usesin the United Kingdom
  • used abroad
  • Municipal tax relief
  • help withtuition
  • help withchildcare costs
  • free and reducedtravel expenses

Benefits in the UK

Veterans, people serving in the armed forces and their dependents can claim a range of benefits in the UK. This includes:

  • Universal credit
  • Child allowance
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Paying for the Independence of the Armed Forces
  • Paying for personal independence
  • Sure Start Maternity Potpora
  • Unemployment benefit
  • tax benefits

You can use the benefits calculator forcheck what benefits you can get. You will need to know the details of your:

  • income - including any income or benefits
  • rent and living expenses
  • savings and investments

Benefits abroad

If you are a veteran living abroad or serving in the armed forces overseas, you and your dependents may still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. You may be able to request:

  • Maternity allowance
  • Child allowance
  • Employment and Maintenance Allowance
  • Allowance for jobseekers (only in certain countries of the European Union)

If you have been refused a benefit that you think you should be getting, you can contact the Royal British Legion for help in making an appeal. Contact:

Legionline: 08457 725 725 (open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

Municipal tax relief

You may be able to get tax-free relief for your council tax or contributions you pay in lieu of council tax. You may be able to get a relief payment if you serve overseas in the armed forces and pay:

  • UK council property tax, or
  • contribution instead of communal tax for the service of family accommodation

Payments are issued at the end of your stay abroad. They are based on the number of days of service abroad.

If you served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, you should receive payments covering any period of overseas service since October 1, 2007.

If you were deployed to the following locations as of February 1, 2008, you should receive payments covering any period of overseas service:

  • Bahrain
  • Bosnia
  • British Forces South Atlantic Islands
  • Diego Garcia
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Train
  • Royal Navy ships receiving the Deployment Welfare Package (Overseas)
  • United Nations operations.

If you have been deployed to Libya since 1 July 2011, you should receive payments covering all periods of service abroad.

Pensions of the armed forces

If you are claiming a war pension or war widow's or widower's pension and you are moving abroad, you should get advice about your pension.

You can get advice from Veterans UK. Their contact details are:

Phone from the UK: 0808 1914218
Phone from abroad: + 44 1 253 866043

Help with school fees and childcare costs

If you are currently serving in the armed forces, you may be able to claim an allowance to pay for your child's boarding school fees. You can get more information from the Advisory Service for Children's Education. Their contact details are:

You can buy childcare vouchers to pay for your child's care. As they are exempt from tax and national insurance, you can make big savings on childcare costs. If you register for the Armed Forces Childcare Voucher Scheme, the cost of the voucher is taken from your pay each month. Vouchers can be used to pay for daycare, teen summer camps, boarding school tuition, and many other childcare costs.

More information and application forms about child care and school fees can be found on the Ministry of Defense Child Care website

Free and reduced travel expenses

A trip down memory lane

The Royal British Legion's Poppy Travel organizes visits to cemeteries, battlefields and memorials around the world. Details of future tours can be found on the website

Government financial assistance 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 their husband or wife abroad before 1967.

For more information contact Poppy Travel: 01622 716 729.

Veterans travel to London

You can apply to join the Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme in London if you are:

  • a veteran receiving financial assistance under the war pension system
  • a veteran who receives regular financial assistance under the Armed Forces Benefit Scheme
  • war widow or widower receiving financial assistance from war pension schemes or armed forces compensation schemes

Under the Veterans' Preferential Travel Scheme, you will receive an Oyster photocard. You can use this to travel for free at any time within London on bus, tube, Docklands Light Rail (DLR), tram and London Overground.

You can find out more about this scheme by contacting Transport for London. Their contact details are:

Helpline: 0845 331 9872 (open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

Blue badge scheme

You may be entitled to 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 a UK resident, you or a member of your household can apply to the Ministry of Defense for a Blue Badge. If you have maintained your residence in the UK, you should apply to your local authority.

See more about war disability allowancePension and compensation programs for the armed forces, veterans and their families.

For more information on eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme seewho is entitled to a blue badge.

More information about the Blue Badge scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website

Forces Railcard

People serving in the armed forces, husbands, wives and dependent children can buy an HM Forces Railcard. This gives you 1/3 off most UK rail fares for a year.

War widows or widowers and family members in receipt of armed forces pension are also entitled to a rail ticket.

You can find more information about the Forces railcard, including how much it costs and the savings you can get, on the HM Forces Railcard website

If you are a war widow or widower, you can apply for a rail pass through the Royal British Legion. Contact:

Legionline: 08457 725 725 (open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

Veterans cannot apply for this rail ticket.

He forces discounts

People serving in the armed forces, veterans and their families can get discounts on many products and services.

You can find out more about available discounts on the Defense Discount Service website

Other organizations

Seafarers Advice and Information Line (SAIL)

SAIL is a UK-wide citizen advice service dedicated to serving Royal Navy veterans and their families. They offer free benefits advice and support.

Seafarers Advice and Information Line (SAIL)
Telephone: free on 0800 160 1842 (Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm - or you can leave a message outside of opening 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:

Legionline: 08457 725 725


SSAFA is an independent charity that offers advice to people in the armed forces, veterans and their families on many issues, including advice on social care, housing and healthcare.

The charity also runs a free helpline and email service which provides support and advice on a range of issues.

Their contact details are:

Forcesline: 0800 731 4880

Veterans UK

Veterans UK, which is an agency of the Ministry of Defense (MOD), is the only Government-funded source of help and advice for veterans. His website has a lot of helpful information for veterans and their families, including welfare and other specialized support programs available to veterans. It also provides links to many other veterans organizations.

Veterans UK also runs a free veterans helpline, which provides advice on a wide range of topics.

Veterans UK contact details are:

Veterans UK
Ministry of defence
Thornton Cleveleys

Helpline for veterans: 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 text phone. There is no additional charge for use.Find out how to use Relay UKon the Relay UK website.


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