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Armed Service Communities 'To Receive Financial Help'

Dec 16, 2007
Both those currently operating in the armed forces and veterans of the services are on track to receive greater financial advice, it has emerged.

In a partnership due to last for three years, Citizens Advice, the Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund are working together to provide a benefits and money advice service to help give guidance on money matters to people who have been in the services as well as their dependants.

As a result, those who have previously served their country and people currently operating in the armed forces may be able to operate with more confidence when organising their finances, whether this ranges from creating a budget and claiming benefits to searching for a cheap loan and getting a savings account.

The move will see advice for those at 18 Citizens Advice offices across England and Wales over the course of this month, in locations including Chorley, Portsmouth, Caerphilly, Exeter and Newcastle. Next year it is hoped that a further two branches will issue such guidance, which could mean that even more servicemen and women, both currently working for the armed forces and veterans, will be able to receive help on loans and other financial areas.

The scheme comes after a survey revealed that although the Royal British Legion offers help with money to the armed service communities via its Poppy Support programme, a "fully holistic service" is also needed. Indeed, a fifth of Poppy Support beneficiaries, about 5,550 people, believe that difficulty in managing debt is one of the largest problems they currently face. Findings from the study also showed that those serving for between three and five years are under the greatest hardship in paying back loans and other demands on their spending.

Commenting on the news, Harvey Tilley, head of community services for the Royal British Legion, said: "Recent research shows there is a need for more services which provide money and benefit advice to service personnel and their families. This new collaboration will provide much-needed additional support to all those currently serving in the armed forces as well as ex-service personnel and their dependants. We're very pleased to be working with Citizens Advice and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund in order to use our pooled resources and experience to reach more people."

Jackie Nowell, head of partnership development for Citizens Advice, added: "People linked to the armed forces have the same problems as everyone else, such as accessing benefits and need advice with money problems." She added that upon leaving the forces, many people may not be aware of which benefits they are entitled to or how to seek help with getting a job or housing.

As a result of receiving such guidance, those who have worked for the armed services, whether they have just left or are a veteran of many years, may wish to consider taking out a personal loan to help supplement their spending. Speaking earlier this year, Paul Morrish, head of Abbey Loans, claimed that people looking to borrow money for whatever purpose should apply for a loan from a professional financial services firm, instead of a friend or family member. Doing the latter, he suggested, could see people "risking a relationship meltdown".
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