Listen to our Armed Forces and take action

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Rachael Maskell MP has warned the Defence Secretary he must take urgent action on the pay, pensions, accommodation and morale of the Armed Forces, or risk worsening the crisis over staff retention. The latest Armed Forces Continuous Attitudes Survey, published last week, has revealed stark declines in the number of personnel who are satisfied with their finances and their housing.

The number of personnel who are satisfied with their basic pay has fallen from 52 per cent to 35 per cent since the Tories came to power, following the MoD’s decision to impose a 1 per cent cap on Armed Forces pay increases, while the number satisfied with their pensions has fallen even more sharply, from 56 per cent to 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, in the space of one year, the number of personnel satisfied with the standard of their Services Family Accommodation has fallen from 57 per cent in 2015 to 50 per cent in 2016, while satisfaction with the response to requests for repairs has fallen from 42 per cent to 32 per cent, and satisfaction with the quality of those repairs has fallen from 37 per cent to 29 per cent.

That follows the MoD’s decision to outsource the maintenance of Services Family Accommodation to private contractor and Tory donor, CarillionAmey. In the first fourteen months of their contract, more than 310,000 requests for repairs and maintenance were submitted by service families.

The survey also shows that the number of Armed Forces personnel reporting that their own morale is high has fallen from 52 per cent when the Tories came to office to 40 per cent this year, while the number saying the morale of their service is high has more than halved, from 25 per cent in 2010 to just 12 per cent in 2016.

Among the top five factors cited by personnel leaving the Armed Forces are low morale, low pay, low job satisfaction, and the impact on their family life. Shadow Minister for Armed Forces Personnel, Rachael Maskell MP, said the figures should be a wake-up call for Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

“Michael Fallon needs to listen to what the members of our Armed Forces are telling him, and the message is loud and clear: their pay and pensions are not good enough, too much of their accommodation has fallen into disrepair, and it is all having a direct impact on the morale of our personnel and the decisions many are taking to quit the service.

“The first duty of any government should be to ensure that the servicemen and women who protect this country are well-equipped, well-paid and well looked after. This survey shows that the Tories are failing in that duty. We hear an awful lot of rhetoric from them about defence, but precious little action. If this is the wake-up call they need, let us hope they are listening.”


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