On March 11, 2024 the New Accommodation Offer will come into effect. AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder explains what the main policy changes will look like and how they will affect you and your family…
Your family accommodation will be based on your family size (generally the number of children you have who are under 18 or under 25 in full-time education).
ESTABLISHED LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS (LTRE)
Service personnel who have registered their relationship as an LTRE will now be entitled to accommodation on the same basis as those who are married or in a civil partnership.
SUPPORT FOR PARENTS
If you have children whose main home is elsewhere but they visit you for more than 80 nights a year, they will now be included in your accommodation entitlement so that you have room for them to stay.
Family size: Married, civil partnership or established long-term relationship
Minimum size home: 2-bed
Family size: One child
Minimum size home: 2-bed
Family size: Two children
Minimum size home: 3-bed
Family size: Three to five children
Minimum size home: 4-bed
Family size: Six or more children
Minimum size home: Considered on a case-by-case basis
How does entitlement work under the new offer?
The entitlement is a guarantee that defence will always support personnel with a minimum size home, but it will be possible to go above or below that, based on your preferences and availability.
DUAL ACCOMMODATION EXPENSE
If you own or rent your own home and use Single Living Accommodation (SLA) during the week, you may be entitled to the Dual Accommodation Expense (this will be a capped amount).
SUPPORT TO BUY A HOME
Going forward, you’ll be offered extra support as first-time buyers through a refund of up to £1,500 of your legal expenses. Forces Help to Buy is already a permanent part of the accommodation policy.
PRIVATE RENTAL ACCOMMODATION
If no SFA is available and you are placed into his route, there is a dedicated team to guide you through the process. You will be given guidance and financial support to cover the costs associated with renting, adjusted for local housing costs.
We realise that there are multiple questions that remain unanswered at the moment, including associated allowances and the allocations process.
We know that communication to families is key and we will share new information as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, here are some answers to your frequently asked questions:
How will I be charged for SFA?
You will be charged the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme (CAAS) band charge of the SFA you opt to live in.
How is allocation of SFA changing?
The radius from duty stations is increasing from 10 to 20 miles, with the option of going out to 50 miles on request. You will also be able to request an allocation of one above or below your entitlement.
What happens if there are no SFA available at my duty station?
You will be asked to source your own private rental (PRS) from the civilian market. You’ll receive allowances to help support you including a monthly contribution towards the rent and council tax etc. Your personal contribution should be about the same as a CAAS band B charge for an SFA at your entitlement. Serving personnel will get time off to help source accommodation and the option to nominate a proxy to help the search. SFA will be prioritised for those returning from overseas.
My soldier is posted frequently – will we be pushed into the private rental market because all the SFA has been allocated?
AFF has been told that DIO will continue to manage and allocate SFA through Pinnacle and will allocate the SFA stock in order to best support the most mobile families. We will be monitoring this closely.
Will my SFA option be a choice or remain a preference on application?
The allocation process is still being worked through. However, we understand that families’ requested SFA options will remain a preference rather than a choice.
I don’t want to live in SFA – can I request to go into private rental?
If there is sufficient SFA available at your duty station, then you will be allocated SFA. If you mark PRS as a preference and there is low SFA stock, you may be offered PRS.
What is transitional protection?
There will be a three-year transition period where those who see a reduction in their entitlement will be offered ‘transitional protection’. However, this will be the same number of bedrooms and not necessarily an old-type officer’s SFA, e.g. if you are a Major and were previously entitled to a four-bed Type IV, you could be offered any four-bed SFA available (including from a D type upwards). If you opt out of transitional protection, you won’t be able to opt back in.