No pay rise for service men despite plea to Chancellor George Osborne

PAY SNUB Chancellor George Osborne
PAY SNUB Chancellor George Osborne
Picture: Ministry of Defence

PICTURE GALLERY: Sussex soldiers join major training exercise in America

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SERVICEMEN and women will face a pay freeze until 2013, despite pressure on the government to reverse the policy.

Former military chiefs last week urged the Chancellor George Osborne to use today’s budget announcement to scrap plans for a pay freeze next year, followed by a one per cent pay rise cap for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

But Mr Osborne has stuck with his policy - inflicting a real terms cut in pay on the armed forces once inflation is taken into account.

However, the policy does not affect those sailors, soldiers and airmen who earn below £21,000.

Kim Richardson, chair of the Naval Families Federation, which is based in Stamshaw, said: ‘The feedback we’ve had is the service person recognises that everybody is under pressure at the moment and they understand that, but I think it begins to rub a bit because it’s on top of other things like pensions cuts and the pause for upgrades for people living in naval families accommodation.

‘Of the three services, people in the navy are away the most and this makes them feel a little less valued than most.’

It was announced today that the government will save £2.4bn from operations in Afghanistan by 2015. This is understood to come as a result of the planned withdrawal of troops from the country by the end of 2014.

Of that extra cash in the pot, Mr Osborne will use £100m to fund improvements in armed forces accommodation.

But a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed the money will not be available until 2013 because of the pause in housing improvements this year.

She added: ‘We are still working up on exactly how that money will be spent, but it will be used to repair and refurbish homes, to buy new-build two and three bedroom houses and improve single-living accommodation by fitting en-suites.’

Mr Osborne also announced overseas armed forces personnel will be entitled to double the rebate on council tax in the next financial year - increasing it to £600 for a six-month stint away from home,

The Family Welfare Grant has also been doubled from £2.20 to £4.40 per person, per week they are away serving overseas.

The cash is used by units - such as ship’s companies - to fund child care, family activities and days out for service families prior to personnel deploying overseas and once they come home.