Ministry of Defence workers get £40m in bonuses while soldiers getone per cent rise

Ian Drury

Last updated at 12:27 AM on 3rd January 2012

Ministry of Defence civil servants have pocketed almost £40million in bonuses while frontline troops face a pay squeeze and job cuts.

The penpushers were given the astonishing sum for ‘good performance’ as British service personnel risked their lives in Afghanistan and Libya.

Ministers, meanwhile, have begun axing 22,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen and have announced military pay rises will be capped at 1 per cent for two years.

Risking life and limb: Soldiers on the Afghanistan frontline will get a mere one per cent pay rise

Risking life and limb: Soldiers on the Afghanistan frontline will get a mere one per cent pay rise

Effectively a cut because of the spiralling cost of food, heating and household goods, it has led to furious accusations that the Government is breaking the Military Covenant.

The Army, Royal Navy and RAF have also been forced to cull hundreds of warships, fighter jets, spy planes and armoured vehicles to find £4.7billion of savings and plug a £36billion hole in the equipment budget.

MoD bureaucrats scooped £38.4million in bonuses in five months in 2011-12. It means the cash-strapped department is on course to eclipse the £43.5million handed out in the whole of 2010-11.

The awards are described as performance linked and are paid for efforts such as saving cash and improving diversity.

Figures show that senior officials shared £505,000, averaging £9,000 each. Junior staff were handed a total of £37.9million, typically taking home £697. One civil servant pocketed a £69,459 bonus.

The basic salary of a new Army recruit risking life and limb on the frontline is £17,265.

In opposition, the Tories and Liberal Democrats vowed to get a grip on the bonus culture at the MoD.

Workers at The Ministry of Defence are enjoying handsome bonuses whist struggling soldiers are being offered a mere one per cent rise in their salary

Ironic: Workers at The Ministry of Defence are enjoying handsome bonuses whist struggling soldiers are being offered a mere one per cent rise in their salary

Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey, now a defence minister for the Coalition, called the payouts ‘scandalous’.

Only a small proportion of the non-uniformed workforce missed out on the perk, raising suspicions that they are a routine part of salary. Around 55,000 received bonuses.

Last night shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the public would be ‘aghast’ at the payouts. ‘Any such payments should only be paid in exceptional circumstances,’ he said.

‘Right now our priority must be looking after our men and women on the frontline.’

Since Britain went to war with Iraq in March 2003, MoD bureaucrats have shared around £370million in bonuses. This is a third higher than the £260million cost of the war in Libya. The latest payments are more than 30 times the £1.2million it would cost to strike a medal for the ignored heroes of the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.

Warning: Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has criticised the slim payout for soldiers

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has criticised the slim payout for soldiers

Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former Army officer, said: ‘It raises questions about our priorities when bureaucrats get richer on bonuses while those on the frontline are being asked to take what is effectively a pay cut.’

Diane Dernie, the mother of Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, the most severely wounded British soldier to survive an attack in Afghanistan, said she was ‘appalled’ at the payouts.

Mr Parkinson, then 24, lost both legs, the use of one arm, his speech and much of his memory in a mine blast in Afghanistan – yet was offered just £152,150 compensation. Only after public uproar and a Mail-backed campaign did the Government agree to increase the paratrooper’s payout to £570,000.

Major Charles Heyman, a defence analyst and editor of the British Army Guide, said: ‘To the soldiers sitting in a hole in Helmand, being attacked by the Taliban day in, day out, it must damage morale to know that someone sitting on swivel chair behind a desk doing a pretty cushy job is getting their pay packet bumped up.’

In 2003-4, civil servants took home bonuses totalling £24.1million. By 2008-09 they had reached an all-time high with £47.5million paid out. The MoD says the awards are a ‘proven incentive for staff to go that extra mile in their vital work’.

Half of the MoD civilian staff earn less than £20,000 per year. A source said most bonuses were paid on August 1. An MoD spokesman said: ‘These payments are not bonuses but are awards for good performance.

‘A proportion of the funding provided for pay awards has been set aside over a number of years as a non-consolidated pay element.

‘This means they are not pensionable, so are a more cost-effective way of rewarding performance than increases in basic pay.’

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
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I don’t know how lower rank squaddies and their families survive on what they earn, specially if posted in the UK, I was an Army wife for 10 years and we were always skint!

Move the MOD to Scunthorpe, Hull, Sheffield or somewhere like that. It will save billions and revitalise a British Town or City. We would not have to pay them London Salaries and Bonuses.

So, ‘business’ as usual.

Robbie, Hamilton NZ: you are one sick MF, you are hiding behind a computer screen and our brave soldiers are in the open, do not think you would have the guts to do the same, you spineless SOB.

If you read UKIP’s defence policy on their website you will find that it includes “Introduce better pay, conditions and medical care for the British Armed Forces personnel and their families”. Compare that with the actions of the LibLabConmen – the parties YOU voted for.

Bonuses for what Carriers without aircraft, destroyers accepted without missiles and £1.5 billion spent on vehicle not delivered.
Obviously worth a very big bonus.

To the state , soldiers have signed up to be abused pawns with no rights whatsoever. White working class men are disposable to them. The soldiers think that they are fighting for their country but the reality is they are completely abused

Disgusting. These desk jockeys get a salary for ‘good performance’ and if they don’t perform well, they should get sacked. There are nearly 3 million people who are waiting to step into their shoes. As far as our armed forces are concerned, this is nothing but an insult and if I were them, I would resign immediately.

It does seem that the government has broken the contract with the servicemen,so surely all those who wish to walk away,may do so.Unfortunately you cannot sue the government,no matter how low or rotten they are.

Do not worry,we are all in this together,are we not** Dave**Dave**Dave,sorry he does not appear to be listening.There are none so deaf who do not wish to hear.

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