Armed Forces: Pay

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 20th July 2016.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, what impact the fixed one per cent pay increase has had on (1) retention, and (2) recruitment, in the (a) Army, (b) Navy, and (c) Royal Air Force.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

The Government greatly values the important work of the Armed Forces. The independent Armed Forces' Pay Review Body (AFPRB) annually reviews Armed Forces' pay to ensure that it remains comparable and adequate to recruit, retain and motivate personnel. Having considered all the evidence presented to them during the last pay round, the AFPRB recommended that a one per cent increase in base pay across the board was appropriate; a recommendation which the Government accepted in full. In addition to the one per cent pay rise, Service personnel have benefited from the introduction of a new pay structure in April 2016. As well as retaining incremental pay scales, 'Pay 16' seeks to rebalance pay to better reward our most highly skilled personnel while addressing many of the concerns Service personnel had raised regarding the previous pay structure.

Pay restraint was one of the many difficult decisions the Government had to make to put the UK's public finances back on track. However, the overall remuneration package remains competitive with a non-contributory pension scheme, subsidised accommodation and access to free medical and dental care.

Research suggests that individuals joining the Armed Forces rate factors such as training, qualifications and promotion more highly than pay. For example, the 2014-15 Recruit Trainee Survey reports that the top four most important factors influencing recruits' decisions to join the Armed Forces were: challenge and adventure (93 per cent); keeping fit (93 per cent); gaining skills and qualifications and the appeal of the lifestyle. Similar findings are found in research regarding Service personnel's intentions to stay in the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2016 reports that the top five factors increasing Service personnel's intention to stay in the Armed Forces are: job security; dental and healthcare provision; pension; and mental health provision.

The Services closely monitor recruitment and outflow. They have introduced a wide range of initiatives to increase recruitment numbers, which include targeted marketing, specific recruitment events, and improvements in the recruitment process. Instances of high outflow are mitigated through a variety of management actions which include extensions of Service, financial retention initiatives and inter-Service transfers. However, it should be recognised that some churn in strength, particularly in the lower ranks, is welcome and helps to refresh the Armed Forces.

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