Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why are Soldiers Awarded 1% Pay Increase while MoD Civil Servants get Huge Bonuses?

The Daily Mail has reported that at a time when front-line soldiers are facing bullets and bombs in Afghanistan, massive redundancies and only a 1% pay increase for the next two years civil servants at the Ministry of Defence are being paid large bonuses .

While serving in opposition both the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties stated their intention to ‘deal with the bonus culture at the Ministry of Defence’.

The article states that ‘MoD bureaucrats were paid £38.4million in bonuses in five months in 2011-12 meaning that the cash-strapped department [MoD] is on course to eclipse the £43.5million handed out in the whole of 2010-11’. The article went on to say that ‘figures showed that senior officials shared £505,000, averaging £9,000 each with junior staff being handed a total of £37.9million, typically taking home £697. One civil servant pocketed a £69,459 bonus’.

These bonuses are paid while a new Army recruit risks life and limb on the frontline in Afghanistan for a basic salary of £17,265 and, with an expected ‘pay-rise’ of only 1% over the next two years, the average soldier expects to have less money to spend when taking inflation into account!

The 1% ‘pay-rise’ has led to allegations that the Government – and the Prime Minister in particular - is breaching the Military Covenant by expecting those who place themselves in harm’s way to accept such a paltry pay-rise.
Outrage at the bonus payments has come from across the political divide with Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary, saying ‘any such payments should only be paid in exceptional circumstances’ and that ‘right now our priority must be looking after our men and women on the front-line’. The Liberal Democrat MP and Defence Minister for the Coalition, Nick Harvey, said the pay-outs were ‘scandalous’.

Former Army officer and now Tory MP, Patrick Mercer, said:
“It raises questions about our priorities when bureaucrats get richer on bonuses while those on the frontline are being asked to take what is effectively a pay cut”.

Commenting on the MoD bonus culture defence analyst and editor of the British Army Guide, Major Charles Heyman, said:

“To the soldiers sitting in a hole in Helmand, being attacked by the Taliban day in, day out, it must damage morale to know that someone sitting on swivel chair behind a desk doing a pretty cushy job is getting their pay packet bumped up”.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson’s mother said she was ‘appalled at the payouts’. Ben is considered to be the most severely wounded British soldier to have survived an attack in Afghanistan – an attack that saw Ben suffer horrendous injuries and lose both of his legs.

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