The Military Covenant
by Saul David
Britain has long acknowledged a ‘duty of care’ to its armed forces that dates back to the reign of Henry VIII. It began as an unspoken pact between society and the military, and was only formally codified by the British Army as a ‘covenant’ in the year 2000. The key passage reads:
“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.”
Noble words, but ones that have not been honoured. In 2007 the Royal British Legion complained that Gordon Brown’s government was not looking after the needs of troops returning from conflict, particularly in terms of injury compensation and healthcare. Earlier this year former army chiefs accused David Cameron of breaking the military covenant, this time over Coalition plans to cap military pay rises at 1 per cent (a real-terms cut). ‘This sends a poor message to those who are fighting on the front line,’ said a former Chief of the Defence Staff. ‘You are asking someone to risk their lives and that puts them into a special category.’
More recently, The Times reported that the Ministry of Defence was considering draconian cuts to army housing for married couples, and that ‘numerous officers and lower ranks – about 80 this year and more next year – are being made redundant mere months’ before the date they would have become eligible for an immediate pension after 16 years of service. ‘This means,’ opined a Times leader (‘The Unpensionables’, 24 August 2012), ‘that families who may have planned their lives around a future with a guaranteed income, albeit a modest one, must re-plan their lives without.’
Such shabby treatment of soldiers was ever the case. When the restored King Charles II formed the first professional army in 1660, the full extent of the state’s ‘duty of care’ for soldiers was to make a modest provision for those maimed in battle. For those who lost their place through age, illness, or under pressure from ‘better men’, there was nothing. It was to cater for the ‘succor and relief of veterans broken by war and age’ that Charles II founded the Royal Hospital at Chelsea in 1681; yet when the hospital finally opened its doors in 1692, its maximum capacity of 476 veterans was only a fraction of the number of soldiers who qualified for assistance. To compensate, therefore, James II introduced a scheme in 1685 for pensions to be given to privates and NCOs who had been either disabled on active service or who had served for a minimum of 20 years. The sum given to a private soldier was a miserly 5d a day (3d less than his normal pay, which was modest enough), barely enough to live on. And still nothing was paid to those who fell ill or were dismissed before they had served 20 years.
These regulations were still in place a century and a quarter later at Waterloo, though the daily rate for pensions had risen slightly in line with army pay (which was finally increased from 8d to a shilling a day in 1799, the first rise since the days of the Commonwealth). Small wonder that after every major war from the 17th to the 19th Centuries, the cities were full of disbanded soldiers begging in the streets. Inevitably many turned to crime (as they still do today), particularly ex-cavalrymen who were allowed to keep their horses and became highwaymen. So bad did it become in London after the Nine Years War (1688-97) that a line of guardhouses was built on the road from the City to Kensington to protect travelers from ex-soldiers. Never popular at the best of times, soldiers were now feared and despised in equal measure.
With such poor conditions of service – in addition to the low pay, food was poor and discipline harsh – it was hard to find recruits. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), the government resorted to sentencing minor criminals to service in the army, and to release others if they volunteered. It also used ‘crimpers’ (the army equivalent of naval press-gangs), increased the signing on bounty from £2 a head in 1703 to £5 in 1708, and passed no fewer than nine recruiting statutes during the war. Small wonder that the author Daniel Defoe noted: ‘In winter, the poor starve, thieve or turn soldier.’
Recruitment was also a problem during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1806, to make soldiering more attractive, the authorities reduced the term of enlistment from twenty-one years to seven, and increased the bounty to £18.12s (over a year’s pay). But the measure failed either to improve enlistment rates or to change the general character of recruits, and from 1808 new soldiers were given the choice of signing on for either seven or twenty-one years, with the vast majority opting for the latter (and an extra £5 5s).
Among the first of the ‘seven years’ men was Thomas Pococke of the 71st Highlanders. The son of ‘poor but respectable parents’, Pococke joined the army in 1807 after failing as an actor. He served through most of the Peninsular War and at Waterloo (having extended his service), and later wrote a graphic account of his experiences in the ranks. It does not make easy reading. ‘I could not associate with the common soldiers,’ he noted of his life as a raw recruit, ‘their habits made me shudder. I feared an oath – they never spoke without one; I could not drink – they loved liquor; they game – I knew nothing of play. Thus was I a solitary individual among hundreds.’
Yet Pococke served his time and, having faced and cheated death on numerous occasions – notably at the battles of Vimeiro, Corunna, Fuentes de Onoro, Vitoria and Waterloo – he was discharged in the winter 1815 without a penny. Having left the army sound of body and without the requisite twenty years’ service, Pococke was not eligible for a pension. He was last heard of working as a road mender ‘with a number of other poor labourers thrown out of general employment’.
Thus did Britain carry out its ‘duty of care’ to veterans of the most famous battle in our island’s history. Of course times have changed and, compared to 200 years ago, today’s army pensions are relatively generous: all soldiers are eligible for an annuity after just two years’ service (and, unlike other public sector workings, without the need to make monthly contributions), while those who stay in for at least 12 years are also entitled to a tax-free resettlement grant. But the debt the state owes its warrior is not just financial. It’s also – as the military covenant stresses – about soldiers and their families receiving ‘fair treatment’ and being ‘valued and respected as individuals’. Which is why, when it accused the government of not keeping its side of the bargain in 2007, the British Legion made a number of recommendations to improve the financial support and health monitoring of soldiers on active service, the speed and amount of injury compensation, the level of access veterans had to healthcare, and the quality of advice, support and representation given to bereaved families.
The official response was that the government ‘must do more’, but that fulfilling its part of the deal was ‘not always easy and takes both time and money’. The recent furore over the Ministry of Defence’s plans to cut army pay (in real-terms) and housing for married couples, and the scandal of officers being made redundant before they can claim their pensions (costing them as much as £250,000 over a lifetime), suggests that Cameron’s Coalition government is no closer to honouring the Miltary Covenant than its Labour predecessor was.
Saul David is Professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham and the author of All the King’s Men: The British Soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo and Great British Commanders: Marlborough, Wellington and Slim (e-book only), both published on 2 February 2012
For those interest in reading more by Saul David and purchasing his books please go to: http://www.amazon.com/Saul-David/e/B001JS8PNQ
Please sign the Parliamentary e-petition if you wish to support “The Unpensionables” mentioned in Saul’s essay and all those other soldiers who may be find themselves made redundant close to their Immediate Pension Point in the coming two tranches of army cuts. We can have this situation reviewed by Parliament if we get enough votes on the petition. Please sign and pass on to friends and family.
History doesn’t have to repeat itself! We need to get MPs working to ensure the Military Covenant is upheld!
Please sign our petition & stop history repeating:http://change.org/pensionjusticefortroops
The article below made me gasp with disbelief! I just can’t understand how making people redundant earlier than expected could somehow relieve people of “uncertainty”, which is what the spokesman for the MoD is quoted as suggesting. As if the Minister of Defence is doing the soldiers and their families a favour by moving things forward!
This is clearly not in the soldiers or their families favour. It is clearly in the Government’s favour as it will allow for this painful process to be over and done with before election time. My opinion, and I’m no military expert, but making whole divisions of troops redundant in a time of high unemploment is going to have implications on housing, schools, and society in general. My concern would also be in how well compensated those made redundant close to pension point will be. Will we be seeing more soldiers and their families being denied the pensions they have earned and deserved? I hope not. My appeal to Government and to Army Chiefs is “slow up” don’t “speed up”!!!
The servicemen and women who are going to be made redundant need time to resettle, retrain, rehouse and find schools for their children. They have shown loyalty and committment to the Crown and successive Governments, they and their families deserve a similar show of loyalty and respect.
The Times: 1 October 2012 – Tom Coghlan
Thousands of soldiers could be made redundant a year earlier than planned in a major cull of the Armed Forces. Two rounds of job losses scheduled for 2013 and 2014 could be merged into one to be announced after Christmas. Officials argue that this would “end uncertainty” for service personnel and their families.
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, and General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, are to discuss the proposal this week. The Times understands that the Army prefers two rounds because of the practical challenges of one large cut. In all, nearly 8,000 redundancies are to be made.
Under government plans, the Army must be cut from approximately 102,000 personnel to 82,000 by 2020. Defence sources said that the pace of the reduction was linked to progress in the war in Afghanistan.
“The Defence Secretary is keen to end uncertainty and give clarity so troops and their families can plan for the future,” said one Ministry source. “They will look at options but it is tied very tightly to Afghan force levels.”
Mr Hammond said three weeks ago that ground commanders in Afghanistan now believe an accelerated drawdown in Helmand province will be possible. “I think there is a bit of a rethinking going on about how many troops we do actually need,” he said. “There may be some scope for a little bit more flexibility on the way we draw down, and that is something commanders on the ground are looking at very actively.”
The Government is worried by the continued drip of bad news caused by cuts to service personnel, which would continue close to a 2015 general election on current plans.
The RAF and Navy have both already completed reductions of 5,000 personnel each. While natural wastage and reduced recruitment are expected to produce a large proportion of the required 20,000 cut in numbers, about 8,000 compulsory redundancies are also expected.
Labour warned yesterday that the proposed acceleration would have human consequences. “There is a human and military impact to redundancies on this scale,” said Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary. “Each job lost is a family potentially struggling and also impacts on the role the UK can play in the world.”
In a statement the MoD said: “There are no plans to make any further reductions beyond the changes announced last year. The size and timing of any future redundancies has yet to be determined.
“However we aim to remove uncertainty for Army personnel and their families as soon as possible. Difficult decisions have had to be taken to deal with the multibillion-pound black hole in the defence budget.”
Michael Clarke, the director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, a British security think-tank, said he believed Mr Hammond was considering the move “because it would save money”, and the Chief of the General Staff “because it would help end uncertainty among the troops”.
Please sign the epetition – and help uphold the Military Covenant:
“I intend to do everything I can to support you and your families.”
An article in today’s Sunday Times suggests the MoD is looking to purchase a controversial piece of land in the Highlands of Scotland, against, it would appear, the will of local people.
In my opinion, the MoD would do well to use any extra pennies they seem to have now found stashed down the back of the MoD sofa to pay those troops made compulsorily redundant within a year of their pension point the pensions they have earned and deserve, rather than buying up real estate in controversial areas of natural beauty in Scotland, where local people are clearly opposed.
In the last tranche of cuts in June, some 50 service personnel were made redundant within a year of reaching their pension point. My brother included. He will be 82 days short of his pension point having served nearly 16 years and three long tours on the front line.
These men and women are losing out on 80% of their pensions. The governemnt line is that they are receiving a “significantly increased redundancy package” but this is worth only 20% of the pension they have accrued to date and were promised. Is the MoD unable to add up? Or think the soldiers and their families can’t add up?
The treasury is saving thousands of pounds on the backs of “the warrior generation”, as the Chief of General Staff , has described this cohort of soldiers who have seen more active service than any since World War II.
The question is, Is this a deliberate policy by the treasury to save thousands of pounds off the backs of these soldiers? Or just an oversight in the way the redundancy and pension schemes interact? Not enough modelling done prior to these announcements?
Probably the later, as Mr Hammond admitted to me personally in a letter in July that he had been badly briefed prior to a defence committee meeting regarding the redundancy issue and had made a “mistake” in his statement and was therefore forced to issue a “corrected statement” to the defence committee. Other mistakes and oversights may also have been made.
That is why we are calling for a review of these cases and the redundancy scheme to ensure these soldiers and their families and future soldiers in the coming two tranches of cuts don’t suffer the same financial turmoil.
So please, step away from the estate agents in Scotland Mr Hammond. Concentrate on finding a solution for the families of these men and women who have planned their financial lives on the promises of these pensions. To do less is to break the spirit of the Military Covenant.
Surely the government should be honouring it’s promises and committment first to the men and women who have risked their lives to uphold government policies rather than any committment to material procurements or any pieces of land in the highlands of Scotland?
Please sign the epetiton and pass on to friends if you can.
Battle to save Cape Wrath from MoD
Mark Macaskill Published: 16 September 2012
CAMERON McNEISH, the celebrated walker and one of the SNP’s most high-profile supporters, has vowed to fight Ministry of Defence plans to buy a remote tract of land on the Cape Wrath peninsula.
McNeish, who recently devised Scotland’s first national walking trail — which ends at Cape Wrath, the most northwesterly point of mainland Britain — fears the final leg of the 470-mile route will have to be changed if the MoD is successful.
He accused the Westminster government of mounting a landgrab that could seal off one of Scotland’s most famous wildernesses from the public.
The national trail will be opened by Alex Salmond next month. A guidebook is going on sale and a BBC documentary about the route, which starts at Kirk Yetholm in the Borders, has been filmed.
The MoD owns most of the land at Cape Wrath, the only place in Europe where 1,000lb bombs are allowed to be dropped. It wants to buy 58 acres of headland around a lighthouse — designed by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather — that is being sold by the Northern Lighthouse Board.Artillery and mortar positions, and barracks could be built on the land.
McNeish is backing a community buyout to thwart the MoD and plans to meet Scottish ministers. “I would suggest the only reason they want to buy the lighthouse land is to force a complete closure on the whole of the peninsula,” he said.
“With the question of an independence referendum on everyone’s lips, this is perhaps a good time to ask if this is another scenario of Westminster forcing a landgrab on the Scottish people — particularly on a small and isolated community in the north of Scotland whose only income comes from a very short tourist season.
“And for what reason? So the MoD can play some war games? If Westminster and the MoD get their way then precious jobs will be lost and one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks will become private.”
About 2,000 tourists visit Cape Wrath each year, mainly in the summer, for birdwatching and walking trips.
John and Kay Ure run the Ozone — Britain’s most remote cafe — from a former lighthouse keeper’s cottage on Cape Wrath, and say they could shut it if the military closes off the peninsula to the public.
“We have nine years left on our lease. We will be surrounded by the Ministry of Defence,” they said.
The Ures have support from residents of nearby Durness, who have a petition calling on the Scottish government to support a community buyout. The sell-off by Northern Lighthouse Board came to light when the Durness Development Group, a community body, applied to renew its right-to-buy interest.
The MoD said: “The Ministry of Defence has shown an interest in the site at Cape Wrath and is aware a community right-to-buy application is currently under consideration with the Scottish government. No action will be taken ahead of the decision on the community right-to-buy application.”
Why won’t the MOD do the right thing and change the policy that sees war hardened, experienced soldiers, discharged from the Army days before their immediate pension points?
The ‘unpensionables’, who are all being made compulsory redundant within 1 year of their immediate pension points, are being denied the financial security on which they have risked their lives and planned their futures and the MOD is content to let this happen.
Instead of demonstrating loyalty and courage the MOD keeps on hiding behind the statement that the ‘unpensionables’ will all receive significantly enhanced payment packages and preserved pensions when they are discharged. This is correct, but what the MOD are not then saying is that this significantly enhanced package does not even total 25% of the total entitlement these soldiers would get if they were allowed to serve as little, in some cases, as an additional 79 days.
The ‘unpensionables’ have served loyally for 15 years, deployed on numerous operational tours to Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and have made countless family sacrifices upon the expectation that they would receive their pensions. To deny them within a matter of days is immoral, deceitful and goes against every single value and standard on which the Army prides itself.
Rules could be changed to allow these soldiers to serve their additional days yet the MOD instead believes the redundancy is a job well done as only 1.2% (less than 50) people are affected by this situation. Whilst it may only be 1.2% now what will it be on Tranche 3 and 4 when up to 15,000 soldiers will be made redundant?
The ‘unpensionables’ are not after extortionate additional payments or reversal of redundancy decisions but simply the opportunity to gain what they have worked for during the last 15 years. They believe they are an anomaly in the system due to their small number and simply ask that they get what they have legitimately risked their lives for. A small change for the MOD but a massive change for those affected.
Please sign the e-petition if you agree and help get these cases reviewed.
Please see below link for BFBS report on pensions issue broadcast for first time, 6th September 2012
Read the Testimonies of Family Members of The Unpensionables – What they feel about the treatment of their partners, sons, brothers.
Wife of Unpensionable
As the wife of an Army major being made redundant in June 2012 I can only say that I am disgusted and angry by the treatment we have received. My husband will be just a few weeks from reaching his immediate pension point and we are being cheated out of a significant sum of money, although this has never been acknowledged by the Goverment. Yes, we will receive a lump sum but this is nowhere near what my husband would have received if he were allowed to work those few extra weeks. I have given up years of my life supporting my husband through his postings, moving to two different countries and various locations in England. I have not been able to sustain my professional career as a result of these moves and so my wage earnings and my pension contributions have had to suffer as a result of my husband’s job; moving for postings is a requirement of his job…the needs of the Army always come first, the family second. The expectation from us has been that the significant financial disadvantages (amongst all the other social, family and emotional disadvantages) of being a military family would be recompensed by the pension my husband would receive when he left. This pension would allow him to gain a mortgage and would provide a small level of financial security at a time when he would need to start out on a second career, it would also help make up for my effective loss of pension. This is what my husband was promised when he signed up all those years ago…and he was not told anything different until the redundancies started recently.
Our world and plans have been taken away from us. My husband will have no job, no house and no pension next year. He has a family to support and he has done nothing wrong. He has served numerous extremely dangerous tours of duty during his time in the Army. I have suffered years of struggling on my own with small children asking “where is daddy?” when he has been away on tour. How are we being repaid for these difficult years of LOYAL SERVICE? Those in high level Government and Army positions are demonstrating an extreme lack of moral courage in standing up for solider’s rights and paying them what they deserve for their loyalty. There is absolutely no sign of the military covenant being upheld.
Unfortunately, I am not surprised that my husband and his cohort, along with other long serving members of the army, have been targeted for redundancy. These groups were identified by the MOD as they are obviously close to reaching pensionable age. This was done months before the actual names of people were selected. The names did not matter to the MOD…just the money…the maximum they can save. Very crafty tactics, carried out with smoke and mirrors so people do not notice. I am sure those adding up the figures worked out long ago that stopping people reaching pension points, even by days, makes big savings…. What those people did not consider was the unique moral agreements that were promised and that these promises now mean nothing. A solider can still be asked to give up his or her life in the line or duty…the solider should just not expect any financial agreements to be honoured by the MOD in return.
Remember, there are two massive rounds of redundancies to come…what is allowed to happen this time will only be expanded on next time to save even more money. Civil servants will get gongs for saving the most money they can….military families will be the ones to really suffer
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Wife of unpensionable
“Devastated, insulted and complete disbelief. It was not just the implementation of a policy it was complete betrayal. We were not opposed to the redundancy policy but the manner and the lack of consideration into the pension issue was simply unbelievable. To rub salt into the wound the lack of understanding by those who apparently ordered the policy and continued ignorance by those who could rectify it is equal to cowardice. These are supposedly the leaders of our military and government, they preach values and standards and say it is for the best yet they target some of the most battle hardened soldiers since WW2 quoting policy and rules as reasons why they can not change their minds. It’s about time they showed a bit of moral integrity and did what is right.
The implications are massive. No pension equals no stability. The pension is the key funding for securing a mortgage on discharge. It is what we have all planned for. Without it schools, house options and future employment options have all been thrown in the air, We have now had to reassess our future.
All we want is the award of the pension or the opportunity to serve until we reach it.”
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Wife of Unpensionable
When I found out how much my husband would lose financially I felt ashamed of how he had been treated by a government who would expect him to make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary, I feel he has been betrayed. I was extremely apprehensive about our financial future as a family particularly as I had left my job to accompany him on a posting to Cyprus and we had a 6 month old daughter.
We will be greatly financially disadvantaged by this decision. We were under the impression that …….. pension would compensate for my massively reduced pension and greatly reduced earning power, both of which have resulted from my accompanying him in his work during our married lives. We are considering moving abroad, the sense of betrayal we both feel as a result of my husband’s redundancy is a large deciding factor in this. If we stay in the UK we will probably have to sell our family home in order to move to an area where we can both find work.
I would like my husband to be able to serve on in the army until he qualifies for his pension. Alternatively I would like my husband to receive the proportion of his pension to which he is entitled (over 95%) from the date he is made redundant.
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Mother of Unpensionable
|1. What did you feel when you realised how much your son was going to lose in terms of pension?
Shock, horror that the Army could disregard their covenant with the Forces by making redundant senior war-experienced officers within one year of pension qualification.
2. How is this going to impact on his family life?
Having signed on as a regular (until 55 years of age) his family’s dreams and aspirations have been shattered. No consideration has been given to family welfare i.e. schooling, their daughter will have attended 4 primary schools and is not yet 7 yrs. old and 7 moves in 8 years of marriage.
3. What do you want done about it?
Extend service so as to complete 16 years OR reduce qualifying period to 15 years.
Sister of Unpensionable
The impact of my brother’s redundancy across the whole family has been huge – we are a small, close family, so what affects him affects us all. My feelings have swayed between shock, anger that he can be treated like this, frustration that no one seems to care and relief that perhaps he is better off out of the whole system.
I am a primary school teacher, therefore not overly familiar of the army’s procedures, but have seen my brother give the army his best, and at times, his family have suffered from this. I know he has not done it to get special thanks, but now the way he is being treated, it is not what he signed up for. Goalposts have been moved with no warning or discussion.
The impact now for his 2 young children, is that their schooling is going to be disrupted during the school academic year YET again, and they are both only young. Being a teacher myself, there is a limited as to how often a child can move schools with little disruption. Why should the children suffer due to poor decisions made by other people?
I think the decent thing would be for my brother and his colleagues is to receive their full pension entitlement, as a minimum, with some compensation for the disruption that is has caused all families – at the very least.
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Parents of Unpensionable
First of all may I say that it was not the question of our sons loss of pension which caused us immediate concern,it was the fact the career that he trained and planed for from his days at school through his times in the army cadet force, ………… university OTC and Sandhurst at the end of which he was offered a regular commission had been taken from him.
It was after this initial shock that we appreciated how much our son was going to miss out financialy, because he was 206 days short of sixteen years attributable service.
Our son feels devistated and betrayed by the loss of the career to which he was dedicated. But as his parents also feel apprehensive as to the financial loss that will be suffered by our son,wife and two small children. Surely this will have signifcant effect on the recruitment of high quality personel to the services in the future?
If the attributable service was changed to fifteen years in this case it would perhaps ameliorate the financial loss to be suffered but will of course not reduce the distress caused by a ruined career. Perhaps in these days of computers it would not be beyond the wit of man to calculate graduated pensions for those who have been cast aside after having commited themselves to the service of their country?
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In-laws of Unpensionable
In-laws of unpensionable
1. Angry and dismayed at the nasty cheap efforts by which the Tories are trying to save money and upset at the impact that it will have on my son-in-law and his young family.
2. Makes the future very uncertain after a period of stability whilst serving and concern for future employment. This is not a good time to be forced to leave given the economic climate and jobs prospects.
3. A total re-think on defence policy which is not strategic, focussing on all aspects of military cutbacks in what are uncertain times
Father of Unpensionable
1. What did you feel when you realised how much you/your son/grandson etc was going to lose in terms of pension?
I was and am thoroughly disgusted with the Government, the Ministry of Defence [Uniformed and Civilian] and the senior management of the Army who think they can without a care deprive personnel of what they were promised in their “terms of engagement” on joining the Army.
2. How is this going to impact on his/her/family lives?
At the outset they have to cope with the turmoil of being made redundant but that is something they will deal with as competent people. But the main problem will be the loss of finance which they will almost certainly have planned to use to maintain their standard of living and to deal with the unknown at this time of great financial difficulty for all and with unemployment running at over 2 million. Future employment is by no means certain, indeed it is a great concern for all.
3. What do you want done about it?
I have already registered my concerns with my local MP – Mrs Claire Perry. I have had a reply from her with a letter from Alan Nisbet the Private Secretary to Andrew Robathan MP. I do not believe that Claire Perry understands anything about what is going on and her letter to me misses the specific point about the pension issue. As one might expect she offers help but not in any meaningful way and blames all the financial ills on the last government! Similarly the pension issue is sidelined in Mr Nisbet’s letter. I attach copies of them all.
I would like to see a positive stand made by all those affected and a clear message passed to the government. As we know the Chancellor has had to back down on a number of ill conceived ideas in the past 2 years so he needs to do so again. I think we should also be mindful of what is going on in the RN and RAF, do they have similar problems? If so then everyone should join together over this.
I am very happy for you to use my name etc. As a retired Naval Officer I am in receipt of my Naval Pension and I see that this Robathan fellow’s title is ‘Minister for Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans’, he should be warned that should he start to meddle Veterans’ pensions he may find himself in even deeper water!
If I can assist in any way please let me know.
With kind regards and thanks, wishing you every success in your mission,
Ian S H Richards
Commander Royal Navy [Rtd
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BBC Radio Five Live: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01m5j8b Interview is approx 1hr into the programme and lasts about 10 mins. (Story about a Lion on the Loose in Essex used up most of our alloted time!!!)
Listen to the Programme which interviews families of The Unpensionables
Comment by listener to the programme: by Ms Maggie O’Brien of Tottenham
The case of the unpensionables is yet another example of the Prime Minister leading by example. Sadly, the example he is giving to young people is that it’s ok to break your promise. Young army officers signed up on the understanding of a pension after 16 years’ service. They kept their side of the bargain, serving in dire conditions and putting their lives on the line every day. Their families have to make enormous sacrifices, supporting their partners often by putting their own careers on hold, and living with the constant fear that they might be injured or killed in active service.
If you believe the spin, this honourable service is welcomed by the government. To evidence this, in July of this year David Cameron visited Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and said
“I value our armed services enormously, the whole country does”
If you value someone, you keep your promises, regarding the contract that both sides signed up to, and honour the officers’ pensions. The current redundancy decision, and the timing of these, which would appear to be a deliberate cost-cutting tactic, has cost officers and their families HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS.
I would suggest to Cameron that the way you prove you value the armed services, is to stop spouting platitudes and start listening to the families. He could start by reading the Times of Friday 24 August, where families of Army officers have been interviewed and express feeling “betrayed, disgusted, angry, cheated and devastated.” David Cameron said in July, “I’m able to look all the Armed Forces in the eye”, I would like to call his bluff and put him in a room for half an hour with army family members such as Jayne and Mary Bullock and Laura Richards. I doubt that he could meet their gaze, but he would hopefully recognise a sharp contrast to his own spin, as their testaments are searing, genuine, eloquent, convincing, and above all, JUST. Look and Learn Prime Minister.
If indeed a genuine mistake has been made by the Defence Secretary, who has already admitted that his evidence to the Defence Select Committee was wrong, then David Cameron and the government now have a great opportunity to lead by example, and show young people that when you make an error, you ‘man up’ and put things right. I believe that they should apologise to the military and their families and immediately review and rectify this shameful situation.
So, it’s over to you David …
PLEASE SIGN the Parliamentary epetition and get the Unpensionables cases reviewed: