Monday, 18 November 2013
A Dereliction Of The Military Covenant
We’re all aware that when anyone joins the military they are conscious of the fact that they are risking life and limb for their country.
Also we’re aware that in recent years governments have done their best to reduce our military security - once the envy of the world - to a fighting force which would be unable to defend these islands without the help of allies.
The excuse for diminishing our military was because we can’t afford because we’re broke. The UK’s financial situation is nothing to do with the military, but HM Forces have paid a heavy price.
Redundancies have been immense amidst rumours of the Army laying off soldiers just months or days before their official retirement dates. These rumours are well-founded and some soldiers are being deprived of 50% of their pensions.
Few join the military for the salary because many could achieve higher salaries. Few join for the exceptional working hours; 7 days a week on operational duty for months on end. Many use part of their final pensions to buy themselves a home they can, for once, call their own instead of paying high rents to live in MoD accommodation allocated to their rank and family size. The Army does offer a good career and opportunities for advancement (at times) because that too can be reliant to ‘dead mens’ shoes’.
Taking into account the years our forces have spent in unwinnable wars at the behest of power-mad politicians military pensions, in comparison with other public service pensions, are not generous but adequate.
Lord Touhig’s evidence is damning (see above link) and it’s little wonder the Coalition’s recruitment policy for reservists is 50% short of its target. Ros Altmann provides a document she presented to MPs and Peers in April this year which lays out the details simply and effectively. Losing up to £200,000 resettlement income is a major breach of trust by the government.
One hundred and thirty soldiers’ pensions are affected by this betrayal but it will also affect their families and extended families.
The armed forces are denied employment rights granted to every other public service worker. They rely on trust and this has been betrayed. The government must uphold the Military Covenant for all service personnel and ensure the financial promises made when they signed up, and on which they risk their lives, are honoured.
The government must put in place a fair compensation package that recognises such pension losses and compensate those long serving soldiers affected so far plus ensure such injustices do not happen again.