In a bid to save £6 million a year Defence chiefs are considering scrapping the operational allowance given to the hundreds of troops supporting Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq.
Ministers have been asked to review the allowance — a bonus of £29 for every day spent away from home — because the deployment to Iraq might no longer meet the “risk and rigour” required to justify being paid the cash.
The ‘Operational Allowance’ is based on a daily rate but is paid as a lump sum at the end of the period of duty in the Specified Operational Location (SOL); it was introduced in 2006 by Tony Blair’s government to support soldiers fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tax-free lump sum of about £5,300 makes a big difference to the people who receive it, according to one former army officer. “When taken together with the multitude of other cuts, it will also contribute to the continued decline in the quality of our people as the totality of the military’s ‘offer’ lurches even further away from a fair balance.”
It is thought if agreed that the change will not come into effect for a year and the MoD have said that those troops deploying to Iraq in the near future will still receive the allowance.
MPs are due to focus on armed forces pay this week. Among the issues will be whether to lift a 1 per cent pay cap.