What assessment he has made of the impact of the rise in the cost of living on armed forces personnel.
Armed forces personnel, like everyone else, are not immune to the international inflationary pressures and cost of living pressures, and I am therefore very pleased to announce that the Defence Secretary has chosen to freeze the daily food charge for our armed forces personnel. We are also limiting the increase in accommodation charges to 1%, ensuring that the council tax rebate reaches those in military accommodation, and increasing the availability of free wraparound childcare at the start of the new academic year.
The Government are failing our frontline forces during a cost of living crisis. According to data from the Minister’s own Department, the percentage of personnel who believe that their pay and benefits are fair has fallen for the first time in four years, with four in 10 servicemen and servicewomen unhappy with their pay and benefits. What success has the Minister had with the Chancellor in securing the pay rise our troops need and deserve?
In terms of measuring the contentment of those serving, the reality that I see day in, day out is that armed forces personnel are content with their pay and conditions. They are also content because of the remarkable job security they have in the armed forces, the subsidised accommodation, and the remarkable and unique non-contributory pension. That is all thanks to the £24 billion uplift made available by the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary.
As we commemorate 40 years since the Falklands conflict, I pay tribute to the brave soldiers who did their duty there, such as Lance Sergeant Alan Dalgleish, who lived in Newport West. But I am afraid, sadly, that the Government’s approach to the welfare and livelihoods of armed forces personnel and veterans such as Lance Sergeant Dalgleish is lacking in both compassion and practical support. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the impact that the Tory cost of living crisis is having on forces personnel living in Newport West?
I do not recognise that characterisation, but of course I join the hon. Lady in solemn and compassionate commendation of the veterans of the Falklands liberation. The Defence Secretary will speak more about that. On her question, I ask her to recognise the work we have done specifically in Wales. I hope that she, like me, is very pleased to see the independent Wales Veterans Commissioner in place, and that she will work with him to improve the lives of veterans in Wales.