§ Sir Geoffrey Pattie
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the review of armed forces allowances has yet been completed; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Younger
We have carried out a comprehensive review of all armed forces allowances to ensure that they are up to date, cost effective, and appropriate to the requirements of service life. Most aspects of the review have now been completed, although some further work will be required on service in London, the conclusions on which will be announced by October 1988, and on certain aspects of service in overseas stations.
The outcome provides significant improvements in measures to assist service men when they are relocated. These will encourage and support the individual service housing policies, which have been carefully reviewed. New disturbance allowances rates will benefit all married personnel. In addition, and in recognition of the increasing number of service house owners, new measures will greatly assist the service man who serves accompanied and who occupies his own accommodation. He will now receive compensation at a much higher level than hitherto for the costs of buying and selling which arise from service postings. Moreover, subject to evaluation of all the 3W changes over the next three years, I envisage a further substantial increase in the limit on reimbursement of legal and similar fees from April 1991.
The new package also goes a long way to removing differences of treatment between married and single personnel and there will be significant improvements in the allowances for seagoers, including help to rejoin their families. At the same time, some existing benefits which are less appropriate to modern service conditions will be phased out. The simplification of certain allowances will produce some savings in administrative costs. Taken with the recently announced armed forces pay review award we believe that we shall have attractive arrangements for modern circumstances which will aid recruitment and retention, and meet, to a much greater extent, the aspirations of service men and their families.
The new arrangements are as follows:
Relocation. A package is being introduced to encourage mobility. For the house owner-occupier aged 30 or over—25 or over in the Royal Navy for allowances in this area—this will allow refunds of up to £2,500 to compensate for the expense of buying and selling a house on a new posting of more than 50 miles from his or her current residence. From 1 October 1988 refunds of tenancy agreement and repossession costs will be available to married and single personnel once in every 12 months period. This refund will be available to single personnel within the appropriate age limits.
Rates of disturbance allowance will be increased very substantially and, in addition to being paid to married personnel, it will, for the first time, be paid also to single personnel aged 30 or over who reside in private accommodation. The new rates for married personnel will be:
Single personnel will be eligible for 75 per cent. of the married private accommodation rates. The child element of the allowance will be £95 for each eligible child.
Into private accommodation (first occupation) 1,200 900 Into private accommodation (reoccupation) 689 517 Into MQs (on posting) 689 517 Into MQs (same duty station) 310 223
Assisted house purchase. The resettlement and 50 plus assisted house purchase scheme will cease to be available from 30 September 1994, although from 1 October 1988 the current rate of advance will be increased from £3,500 to £5,000. The Royal Navy long service advance of pay scheme will continue but the rate of advance will remain at £3,500.
A contract scheme for removals, already in existence within the Army, will be introduced within the United Kingdom for all three services from 16 May 1988. Single personnel aged 30 or over will benefit from the scheme. Baggage scales for moves on posting overseas and within the United Kingdom will also be improved across the board. For example, for moves overseas, a married major will get a 41 per cent. increase; a married corporal and a single lance-corporal a 52 per cent. increase.
Major changes will be made in home to duty travel reimbursement. Married quarter occupants will be exempt from a personal contribution, although claims for journeys of three miles or less will remain inadmissible.4W
For those in private accommodation the allowance will be phased out by 1 April 1991; meanwhile, the personal contribution will be increased from three to seven miles to reflect the average distance to work now travelled by civilians. Personnel posted to a new unit less than 50 miles from their home, and who are therefore ineligible for the relocation package, may be paid the cost of excess fares. The amount of excess fares will be based upon the difference in distance travelled between home and the new and old duty units respectively, less a personal contribution of seven miles per day. Single personnel aged 30 or over will be eligible for the first time for assistance under these new arrangements.
Single personnel living-out at their duty station and who are subsequently sent on detached duty will have the period for which the accommodation charge is waived increased from 21 days to 12 months.
Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel will, in accordance with the RN's accommodation policy, be required to opt for family stability or family mobility. This choice, coupled with the nature of the actual draft—sea or shore—will define which allowances personnel will receive. A service man will be able to change his decision only on the issue of a new appointment or draft. For naval personnel already married, the decision will need to be made on the occasion of the next appointment or draft on or after 1 October 1988, or by 1 April 1989, whichever is the earlier.
As announced in the 1988 pay review, the Government have accepted the AFPRB recommendations that seagoers should receive longer service at sea bonus and that separation allowance for seagoers and hard lying money for surface ships should be abolished. Seagoing personnel will receive extra warrants whilst at sea, and warrant credits to use in their next shore appointment or draft.
Army and RAF married personnel who opt to serve voluntarily unaccompanied on their next posting after 1 October 1988 will be required to pay for their accommodation in addition to the abated food charges. They will also lose their entitlement to separation allowance and separation warrants. Personnel on courses or attachments or postings of less than 12 months will be unaffected by these new regulations.
New arrangements will replace the current United Kingdom leave travel entitlements to basic and separation warrants. There will he a general entitlement to two warrants. Single personnel aged below 25 years of age will retain four warrants per year, as will personnel serving in Northern Ireland. In the Royal Navy, retention of warrants will depend upon rank rather than age. Army/ RAF involuntarily separated personnel and Royal Navy personnel who opt for family stability rather than family mobility will be entitled to a total of 12. Each child at boarding school will be entitled to three journeys per year for school children's visits (SCVs) in the United Kingdom. There will be a parental contribution for the first 50 miles of all SCVs. Divorced or separated parents will be entitled to a total of eight warrants to enable them to visit their children. There will be additional shopping warrants for personnel in the Scottish outer isles. First class leave travel for senior officers will be abolished, and destinations will be restricted to nominated destinations in line with the intention that leave travel should be used only to preserve family ties.
Boarding school allowances. Separate allowances will be introduced for preparatory and senior schools to reflect 5W the differing levels of fees paid. The higher rates for third and subsequent children will be abolished. The new arrangements provide for a minimum personal contribution of 10 per cent. of the fees in respect of any child. Parents of children already receiving boarding school allowance or entering boarding school during the remainder of 1988 will continue to receive the current allowance, appropriately uprated, if the amount is higher than their new entitlement, until that overtakes the current allowance, or until the end of the current stage of education.
There will be a number of other changes including the widening of the criteria for payment of plain clothes grant and allowance to include more personnel who are required to wear plain clothes in the course of their duties with some increases in rates. A new telephone call system will be introduced for personnel serving in Northern Ireland, as will a new allowance to compensate for the excess cost of coal to heat married quarters there.