Armed Forces Redundancy Injustice

Press Release

 Former Defence Minister to Challenge Government in House of Lords today on armed forces redundancies
 Lord Touhig calls urgent debate on Armed Forces Redundancy Injustice
Betrayal of Military Covenant is a major Breach of Trust for our loyal troops
Event: House of Lords Debate
Date: Thursday, 31 Oct 2013
Time: from 12.30
Former Labour Defence Minister, Lord Touhig, has called an emergency debate in the House of Lords today, to highlight the plight of armed forces personnel who feel betrayed by the Government when being made redundant without receiving the pension payments they were promised.
In July, Lord Touhig commented that The Government is making soldiers redundant in a “cheapskate” way to save “a few bob in petty cash’’ and he urged the Government to review how it treated soldiers who lost their jobs as part of military reforms to stop them from missing out on their full resettlement pension rights. 
Today’s debate will be another chance for Parliamentarians to try to press Ministers to uphold the Military covenant that this Government enshrined in law.  As we approach Remembrance Day, it is vital that the needs of our loyal armed forces, who put their lives on the line for our country are treated decently and honourably.
Despite numerous pleas from the personnel affected, and from members of Parliament, The Government has refused to review its policy decisions, despite clear evidence of the injustice it is causing.
The Issue:  Long-serving Soldiers have been made compulsorily redundant close to their Immediate Pension Point (IPP).  As a result they are losing expected resettlement income payments worth up to £200,000 (taxable) each up to age 55.  The army has reneged on its written commitment to these men. They feel betrayed and powerless.
Armed Forces are denied employment rights – they rely on trust, which has been betrayed:  Other groups of public servants have unions and representatives to fight their cause, but the armed forces are denied this and rely on the Military Covenant and trust to be dealt with fairly by the nation and the Government.  They accept the redundancy decisions, but cannot accept being treated so dishonourably. Their families have adjusted their lives around the promises made, they must be kept.  We believe this is the first Government to treat Long-serving  service personnel in this way.
Appealing to Peers & MPs to take cross-party action to seek a resolution: 
The Armed Forces are denied normal employment protections.  Indeed they are called on to step in when other services take industrial action.  They rely entirely on their Chain of Command, Ministers and Parliament to ensure fair treatment in relation to their terms of service.   Appeals to Ministers have so far failed and Service Complaints have taken an inordinately long time to be dealt with, leaving those affected hanging on, waiting for justice which is being denied.
Betrayal of Military Covenant:  The Military Covenant, enshrined in law by this Government last year states: “Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ultimate sacrifice – in the service of the Nation.  In putting the needs of the nation and the Army before their own they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces.  In return British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.” Soldiering –The Military Covenant.    
The External Covenant Reference Group calls this situation a “betrayal of the spirit” of the Covenant and calls for Government to “review how it can restore pension rights to those who have been disadvantaged.” p16 Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report Dec 2012.
The Army has admitted that “the Covenant” and one of its key tenets for all its personnel “Values and Standards” have not been applied to the redundancy process.  This counters the words in the values and standards handbook “Our Values and Standards are essential to the British Army, they define what the British soldier is. They are more than just words, we must all believe in them and live by them.”
Why this situation is so wrong:
·      Service personnel were recruited, promoted and retained on the basis of receiving their resettlement Pension, which was also confirmed in writing when Officers converted to IRC.
·      Unfairness within cohorts has been created by the Redundancy programme exclusions which are politically, not militarily motivated.  . A redundancy scheme that allows such anomalies undermines the intent to restructure the army while ‘retaining the best’.
·      Short-sighted cost-cutting, ongoing challenges and disgruntled service personnel will impact the future performance of our military forces. However much we spend on equipment, if the men operating it and Officers leading the troops are not treated fairly, the Defence forces’ effectiveness will be weakened.
Ministers have suggested this is not about the money, but as this appears to be the first Government ever to refuse to properly compensate Service personnel close to Immediate Pension  for their losses, it seems that money must be the issue.  Indeed, the MoD seems to have been under pressure from the Treasury not to compensate these service men and women, but surely a written commitment confirming years of oral commitments, must be honoured?
Army morale & trust in the Military Covenant are essential for an effective army. 
Today’s Lords Debate title: “Lord Touhig to ask HMG, in the light of the recent comments  by General Sir Nick Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, what assessment they have made of the impact of redundancies on the armed forces.”
Those affected are calling  on the Government to :
1) Uphold the Covenant for all service personnel and ensure the financial promises made when they sign up, and on which they risk their lives, are honoured.
2) to put in place a fair compensation package that recognises cliff-edge pension losses,  compensate those long serving soldiers affected so far and ensure such injustices do not happen again.
3) review the Armed Forces Service Complaints procedure which is failing to address this matter in a timely matter .  The Service Complaints Commissioner in her annual report released on 21 March 2013 said that “I am very disappointed that, for the fifth year running, I am still unable to say that the Service complaints system is working efficiently, effectively or fairly. This is unacceptable”
Pension Justice for Troops

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