MP calls for better pay for troops

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has called for reform on armed forces pay which would see the lowest paid earning �6,000 extra per year, to put their salary on a more equal footing to that of police constables and fire fighters. In his role as Liberal Democrat

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has called for reform on armed forces pay which would see the lowest paid earning �6,000 extra per year, to put their salary on a more equal footing to that of police constables and fire fighters.

In his role as Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson, Mr Harvey has put together proposals which, he says, would address the widespread dissatisfaction from across all ranks with the current pay levels and re-assert the nation's commitment to the armed forces.

The proposals, launched today (Wednesday) by Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg MP, would ensure that no soldier, sailor or airman has less basic pay than a new recruit to the police or fire service.

They include: The lowest paid personnel would receive an increase of �6,000, placing them on �22,680 and an equal footing with a development-level fire-fighter or new-entrant police constable; Privates and Lance Corporals would receive an average annual pay increase of over �3,000, with the average annual basic pay across these two ranks rising to around �25,000; higher NCO ranks would receive an average annual pay increase of around �1,000.


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At present over 51,000 service personnel are on less than the basic starting salary of a police constable. Of these, 13,000 are on less than �17,000, despite serving on the frontline in Afghanistan, says Mr Harvey. This equates to an average hourly wage for a Private of �6.74 - just �1 above the minimum wage and more than �3 less than a newly trained firefighter.

The Liberal Democrats believe this can be rectified by re-aligning defence priorities and using one per cent of the defence budget (�300million) to fund the pay increases. This would be obtained from efficiency savings and natural wastage within the MOD.

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Mr Harvey said: "There is a long history of shamefully low pay for the men and women fighting on the frontline. I find it shocking that over 51,000 service personnel are on less than a new recruit to the police or fire services, at the same time as the MOD has one civilian for every two serviceman, with almost 1,000 people working in communications alone. It is time that we rectify this discrepancy and restore the military covenant. For one per cent of the MOD's budget we can give service personnel the recognition they deserve. This will impact not only on the welfare of our forces, but also be a boost to morale and go some way to addressing worrying trends in recruitment and retention. The Government is talking about a new Strategic Defence Review, but it will be fundamentally flawed if Service men and women are not placed at the heart of future military considerations.

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