IF YOU’RE posted to Aldershot on or after 31 January 2020, the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot will apply to you. It has been designed to offer more choice in how you want to live, whether on the patch or in a home that’s in a convenient location for your family. Here, Cat Calder, AFF housing specialist, answers some of your questions…
The pilot will test the new policy, the way it’s delivered and what accommodation options you prefer. A decision will then be made about whether to roll it out across the UK after it’s complete.
If you’re already in Aldershot, you don’t have to change your accommodation choice unless you want to.
Different housing options include Single Living Accommodation (SLA), Service Family Accommodation (SFA), Private Rental Sector (PRS) and home ownership. There will also be a change in entitlement from rank-based to needs-based and those who are in an established long-term relationship will be entitled to accommodation rather than eligible for surplus.
Is my family eligible for FAM?
- Yes, if your soldier has more than four years’ service
- You’re married, in a civil partnership or in a long-term relationship
- They have a report for duty date at Aldershot after the 31 January
- Or you’re already posted there and your soldier has more than a year to go when the pilot launches.
What advice is there on our options?
- There’s a training package online to help with all your questions [Search ‘Future Accommodation Model’ at gov.uk]. You can also to speak to the FAM Cell in Aldershot and your welfare team.
Will we get time off to source PRS?
- You will get up to seven days’ leave.
How do we apply?
- Fill in an accommodation preference form via JPA. If you want to buy a home after 31 January, you don’t need to fill in the form – just take your legal paperwork to your unit HR.
How do we apply for our deposit advance?
- Use the Discover My Benefits Tool [discovermybenefits.mod.gov.uk] to see how much you’re likely to need and then apply via JPA. There are timelines and set criteria for repayment, so do read the FAM pages on gov.uk
What will the FAM payments be?
It depends on your choice of accommodation:
- If you choose SFA your rent will be deducted from your soldier’s salary as usual
- If you move into your own home more than 50 miles from Aldershot, living unaccompanied, you will get a core payment of £125 per month
- You also get the core payment if you buy a property on posting to the pilot site after 31 January
- If you choose to rent (PRS) in Aldershot, you’ll receive the core payment plus a geographic payment which is dependent on your family size and how expensive it is to rent in the area
- If you’re already renting, from 31 January you’ll receive the core payment, and if you are renting within 50 miles of Aldershot, you’ll also receive the geographic payment.
Under PRS, you’ll also pay a personal contribution, and if you opt for a larger/smaller house you’ll contribute more/less.
For example, it could cost £1,097.50 for a family with two dependent children to rent within 50 miles of Aldershot. You would receive £125 core payment plus £750.15 geographic payment (total £875.15). Your personal contribution would be £222.35 plus council tax, water rates and household bills.
I already own a house within 50 miles of Aldershot, can I get the FAM core payment?
- No, if you currently own your own house in the Aldershot area you will not be entitled.
What about council tax if we choose PRS or our own home?
- Your soldier will no longer have CILOCT deducted from their pay, so don’t forget to budget for council tax. Your FAM payment includes an adjustment, so you won’t be out of pocket if you have to live in a higher than average council tax area.
And water rates?
- You pay water rates as part of your CAAS charge in SFA. Under FAM, if you choose to rent or buy, you’ll pay the water company directly.
Who will pay our rent if my soldier is short-toured and we have to move?
- The MOD will cover these costs and you’ll be able to apply for Early Surrender Relief (ESR) via JPA.
What will happen if my PRS landlord doesn’t renew the tenancy?
- You’ll be able to apply for accommodation again and will be able to opt for another rental property or SFA.
Will we get removals paid for?
- Yes, when you move on an assignment order to Aldershot. If you’re already living there and opt for a change of accommodation, you’ll not get removal costs.
Will I have to take a smaller house than I’m currently entitled to?
- FAM will be needs-based. However, to protect those who would see a reduction in the accommodation offer, you’ll be eligible for transitional protection (TP). This means that you’ll be eligible for the same type of SFA at the pilot site as per current policy. If no SFA is available, you’ll get a payment for the PRS which will enable you to rent a property broadly in line with your current SFA entitlement. TP is only available if you opt for SFA – if you choose PRS you will only get the new FAM entitlement.
- AFF has been reassured that a good percentage of rental properties will accept pets – let AFF know if you experience issues.
We claim tax credits/universal credit. Will the FAM payments impact on this?
- We have been assured by the Department for Work and Pensions that the calculations for these benefits will not be impacted by FAM payments.
A member of my family needs housing adaptations, can I opt for PRS?
- It’s unlikely that a private landlord would allow significant adaptations. SFA will always be available to you as an alternative.