Parliamentary briefing

Building societies supporing the Armed Forces Covenant

Introduction

This briefing outlines steps being taken by the building societies sector to support service personnel through the Armed Forces Covenant.

Background

Service personnel can face difficulties accessing financial services due to their mobility and time spent outside the UK. Since 2012, the BSA has helped the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to produce its Financial top tips for service personnel. These key principles are designed to give services personnel the best guidance on how to maximise their chances of accessing financial services. The BSA continues to work with the MoD and other trade associations to keep the financial top tips up to date.

Consent to Let

With personnel in the Armed Forces being regularly posted overseas or restationed within the UK, 28 building societies have agreed to allow them to rent out their homes without facing higher mortgage interest rates or a requirement to change their mortgage from residential to a buy-to-let loan. This commitment was announced in the December 2016 Armed Forces Covenant annual report.

The list of building societies offering this includes the Leeds, Family, Ecology, Nationwide, Cambridge, Tipton & Coseley, Yorkshire, Monmouthshire, Loughborough, Coventry, Newbury, Mansfield, Skipton, Ipswich, Bath, Principality, Darlington, Chorley, West Brom, Melton Mowbray, Buckinghamshire, Newcastle, Scottish, Penrith, Cumberland, Hanley Economic, Nottingham and Holmesdale.

Credit ratings

Members of the Armed Forces sometimes face difficulties maintaining a credit rating when they are posted overseas. This can create problems when they try to take out a mortgage or access other financial services. With the Army withdrawing from Germany this may be an issue more services personnel experience but work is underway to tackle it, as returning personnel look for housing and need access to financial services.

The Royal Mail has issued special UK postcodes for British Forces Post Office numbers to attempt to address the issue. The BSA is working with the credit reference agencies, MOD and other financial trade bodies to improve the way credit data is matched to a service person’s BFPO address when they are living overseas.