Skip to main content

Armed Forces: Allowances

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Recent media reports have alleged, incorrectly, that Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel have had a cut in their allowances. I wish to advise the House of the current situation.

Due to an inaccurate Royal Navy information campaign, up to 4,260 Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel were led to believe that on transition to Joint Personnel Administration on 1 November 2006 they would receive higher rates of longer separation allowance than they were entitled to. Personnel wrongly assumed that their unpaid qualifying service for longer service at sea bonus would count towards their new rate of separation allowance from 1 November. This was identified by the Royal Navy in October 2006 and has been carefully considered by the services and Ministers. It was agreed that the decisions taken in 2003 to target better service allowances were correct, and that it was imperative that Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel were treated fairly in comparison to their Army and Royal Air Force colleagues once they were eligible for the new allowances package. Therefore, on 1 November the Second Sea Lord wrote to all Royal Navy and Royal Marine commanding officers advising them that this oversight was regrettable but did not justify a change in policy. Commanding officers were asked to remind all their personnel that none would see a cut in their separation allowances as a result of this decision and that the new allowances package was aimed directly at benefiting most those personnel who experience frequent periods of separation.

The new allowances package, for which all Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel currently serving in Afghanistan are eligible, benefits all three services. Under this new policy, personnel are entitled to longer separation allowance that has 14 levels of payment, many higher than previously existed when there were only three levels of separation allowance.

The House has already noted that, in order to recognise further the work of our armed services, we have introduced the new operational allowance of some £2,240 for a six-month tour of duty, and this is alongside a much improved operational welfare package. In addition to these positive changes, I also announced on 3 December that the initial qualifying period of 100 days for separation allowance will be abolished from 1 April 2007. This is all positive action taken by Her Majesty's Government to appreciate even more the excellent work of our armed services.