Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)
Due to our high rates of mobility, boarding school is often the only viable choice for Service children. Families find it an agonising decision often a decision that they swore never to even consider when their children were younger. Service personnel who claim CEA have to sign a mobility certificate agreeing that they are prepared to move wherever the MOD requests them to. In claiming CEA, a Service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining their entitlement to the allowance.
Is it going to be cut?
Recent newspaper articles speculating that Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is under threat probably stem from the planned review of the Armed Forces financial package - the Strategic Review of Remuneration (SRR). The SRR aims to develop packages tailored to support an appropriate balance between mobility and stability for families, as well as individuals, and will be looking at education, accommodation (including options for greater home ownership), relocation and travel in the future. The Army values and encourages accompanied service - particularly for those who are serving in deployable units and headquarters and for those stationed outside GB and acknowledges that CEA is vital in supporting accompanied service. The SRR doesnt envisage the removal of CEA and Army Personnel Policy staff are fully engaged in ensuring that the Armys needs - now and in the future - will be properly met within the SRR work.
Can you afford the boarding school you have chosen?
AFF has received a number of queries lately from Army personnel currently claiming CEA who are finding it difficult to meet the ever-increasing difference between CEA and the fees they have to pay. When you are looking for a suitable boarding school, remember to be realistic about the amount of money you might need to allocate from your salary for school fees. Try not to take any second income you currently have into account as you may not be able to work in future postings. Its also worth remembering that the fees quoted are the flat fees and dont always include extras such as music lessons, school trips and uniform costs which can add up to a significant sum at the end of each term.
CEA is available from the beginning of the academic year in which a child turns eight until they reach the end of the stage of education in which they are eighteen. In exceptional circumstances CEA may be extended to cover the academic year in which a child turns nineteen. Parents are required to pay 10% of the termly fees at the school they have chosen for their child(ren). The termly rates for CEA 2007-2008 are as follows:
Junior / Prep CEA (Day) £2334
Junior / Prep CEA (Board) £3962
Senior CEA (Day) £3071
Senior CEA (Board) £5111
Special Educational Needs Allowance (Board) £7628
Special Educational Needs Allowance (Day) £4918
I currently claim CEA for my two children who board in Somerset, they have had a fantastic education and may one day become officers. my oldest son is hoping to be a dental officer one day.
To be quite frank I wouldn't still be here if it wasn't for this allowance and if you ask me many of our senior officers (35+) are in the same boat. Service life is quite destructive to family life and our children should not be made to suffer for queen and country as well, educationally speaking.
The allowances should be 10% of your actual fees regardless of the school they go to. If the system prevented the most expensive schools from being on the list so to speak then 10% is a fair-ish rate better at 5% or full fees.
I pay 15% for both now (conned by lower entry rates initially which aligned with 10% that steadily increased above inflation at about 8% a year), which now is very hard to maintain when in the UK (wife 2 jobs) and I am quite a senior NCO. JNCOs can not afford this luxury.
Like getting rid of apprentice colleges getting rid of CEA will only lead to a reduction of those wanting to join "man Service" and may lead to a mass exodus with me included.
If you take it off the soldiers now get your cheque book ready to pay for a lot of pensions, court fees and recruiting drive incentives.