Monday, August 1, 2011

Armed Forces Allowances Update

The Armed Forces (Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force) do give a number of allowances (despite what you hear about Armed Forces cuts etc).

There are specific lead allowances for service personnel assigned to seagoing units to compensate for the extra time spent away from home; Travel expenses can usually be claimed for duty journeys from a normal place of work for all the services; there is the Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) – Contributes to the additional costs of day-to-day living in an overseas county; Special Messing Allowance (SMA), and Overseas Furniture Provision Scheme (OFPS). These are only a few of them that are actually available.

There are many more allowances available and you'll find them here in our British Armed Forces Allowances section. Here's a few more:

General Allowances for Service Personnel

Travel Expenses In The Armed Forces
Travel and Subsistence when Living Overseas

Child Related Benefits In the Armed Forces

The links above take you to sections where you'll find articles explaining the different types of allowances open to you. However, in the previous 12 months there have been many changes.

This article describes some of those changes that directly affect the Armed Forces and their families.

As part of a comprehensive spending review, a direct consequence of 2010's Strategic Defence and Security Review, the changes all began end of 2010. It was announced that more than £250 million would be stripped from the armed forces' £880m allowances budget ordered by the Treasury.

Needless to say, the first to go, deemed too extraneous were perks for senior officers, such as payment for chefs and cleaners, drivers or gardeners.

Military personnel of all ranks have been asked to make personal financial contributions to allowances such as those which cover travelling from home to work.

Payments to cover travel to sports events and training facilities are also considered to be vulnerable to culling. Military travel allowances last year cost the government £54 million.

Defence chiefs accepted the cuts with regret but also claimed it could 'seriously damage troop morale'.

Some senior defence sources have criticised the move but others have welcomed it - our opinion is that the Armed Forces cannot be compared to MP's claiming expenses. However, cuts have to be made, and naturally expenses and perks are always the fist to be culled. This is replicated right across the private sector too. In fact some within the Armed Forces have claimed many officers are 'living beyond their means' and that the cuts will prevent fraudulent claims.

One issue however that has thrown up opposition is the examination and possible culling of the Continuity of Education Allowance, which helps pay for the private school fees. CEA costs the taxpayer £180m a year and is claimed by 5,500 service families.

As well as allowances, all forms of the armed forces specialist pay – which makes up a significant proportion of the salaries of pilots, comms crew, divers, bomb disposal experts, submariners and members of the special forces – is also to be examined and it looks like there will be inevitable cuts to these looking towards 2012. However, in our view the cuts cannot be too severe for specialist pay, as part of the remuneration for taking on extra duty and skills is the specialist pay rate in the first place. Take too much of that away and how can recruiters attract candidates into the specialist trades?

Qualified aeroplane and helicopter pilots, as well as specialist aircrew, can earn up to an extra £40 a day on top of their salaries even if their job does not involve flying.

Politicians argue that Pilots for example should only be paid the extra specialist pay when they are flying.

Under the current allowances scheme pilots are still paid the full "flying pay" for three years once they have left a "flying job". SDSR considers this too 'generous', the extra pay is worth millions of pounds to pilots who do not fly and submariners who no longer serve at sea. George Osbourne described this as 'staggering'.

Local Overseas Allowance, is paid to troops serving abroad where the cost of living is more expensive than the UK, will also be reduced (but the number of places that are more expensive than the UK are disappearing). In 2009/10 LOA cost the MoD £224m.


When dealing with expenses you must pay up front and then claim back what is owed by providing a valid receipt. Otherwise, if you can't provide the receipt you'll get nothing.

There are still many good allowances available to the Armed Forces but in these unsettling economic times those perks are slowly disappearing. However, some essential perks will stay but don't let all this put you off, the Armed Forces still offers what many jobs in the private sector cannot.

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