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Overseas Personnel: Covid-19 Support

Volume 678: debated on Monday 6 July 2020

What support his Department has provided to service personnel operating overseas during the covid-19 pandemic. (904216)

My hon. Friend gives me the opportunity to recognise that away from our response to covid in the UK, the armed forces have also been serving in many locations overseas, going about their normal duties. In my earlier answer to the shadow Minister, I spoke about the force protection measures we make available to theatre commanders, but it is important to recognise before the House that some of the operational requirements we place on our armed forces are so immediate that sometimes no mitigation is available, and they accept that risk on behalf of our nation. We are all very grateful to them for doing so.

On 10 June, I received a letter from the Minister for Defence People and Veterans in response to the cancellation of the overseas loan service allowance, which has significantly financially disadvantaged service personnel operating overseas. The letter also stated that the local overseas allowance would not be reduced from its normal rate. Sadly, it appears that this is no longer the case and that the LOA will now be paid at a reduced, residual rate. Since repatriation, any payments on the OLSA and LOA have been deemed as overpayments and are now being clawed back from service personnel. As people are the military’s greatest asset, can I please ask what will be done about this?

The Department has prepared a long answer to match my hon. Friend’s long question. The Secretary of State has just said he is gripping this.