WE HAVE recently undergone the stress of having our Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) certificate queried and been vindicated. The process has been stressful, slow and uncommunicative. I support wholeheartedly the need for rigour but it has highlighted a rule that concerns me.
We have moved on every posting covering Britain’s far corners and throughout all of this I have chosen to live with my soldier in a quarter. This comes with the sacrifice of no career for me and three primary schools for each child. I think this makes us an average Army family.
My husband was keen to pursue a career (which always involves moving), so boarding school and stability for our children was the right option.
When a family makes a commitment to boarding school it is also making a long-term commitment to the Army. Postings whilst claiming CEA were Oxfordshire, then Hampshire to a job that lasted less than a year. A new role was then given in the same location for three years.
We left this at the two-and-a-half year point as requested by the military, three-and-a-half years in total (the longest I have lived anywhere!).
There were always options more than 50 miles away, but we went where the Army sent us. I am staggered to have the CEA Governance Team (CEAGT) query our mobility. How were we meant to predict where we would go next? The only thing that has made the moving bearable is stability for my children’s education and us remaining together under one roof. Moving them from school-to-school would have meant six schools for child number one.
Our certificate took just under three months to review (too long) and now states that we must move more than 50 miles on our next posting.
Am I missing something? The whole point of the allowance was so the Army could post him wherever they liked and Didcot, Andover and Aldershot is where they chose. I am quite happy to go more than 50 miles next time but surely we should go to a location that is in the interests of the Army and his career not in the interests of CEAGT.
The 50-mile rule is causing issues for those of us who are most definitely mobile but who cannot predict the distance we are posted.
Name and address supplied
Response from PS10(A) Allowances: CEA is an extremely important allowance which supports Service families. Ensuring that the rules are correctly adhered to will help to safeguard the continued availability of the allowance for those who have made a genuine commitment to family mobility. Command also recognises that CEA is an important retention factor for many personnel.
The application process commences with the claimant confirming they satisfy the eligibility criteria. Next, the Assignment Authority “assesses the likelihood that a Service person will be assigned more than 50 miles from their current duty station within the next four years”.
Third, the claimant’s CO assesses the applicant’s eligibility. This must be re-done on assignment, change in circumstance, or every three years. It is this Eligibility Certificate which is the key part of the process.
CEAGT was introduced to improve the governance of CEA, prevent fraud and add further rigour to the process.
The CEAGT team has a target of 20 working days to process renewals but, in some cases, this can take longer.
CEAGT is only empowered to deal with the eligible SP and therefore, without having your personal details, we cannot pinpoint the reasons for delay in your case.
Unit admin staff remain available to offer assistance to all SP. The rigour that is being applied is necessary, although your process appears to have been elongated. The policy requires that when a CEA claimant’s family has not moved more than 50 miles within the last two assignments, the CO must take this into account.
However, two assignments within 50 miles do not preclude future eligibility; it simply initiates a more detailed analysis of an applicant’s eligibility.
I can’t confirm how the suggestion that you must move more than 50 miles on next assignment has arisen; it is likelihood of such a posting that drives eligibility. CEAGT doesn’t issue certificates that mandate future movement.
Among personal and career factors, assignments take account of the Army’s needs.