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War Families Anger at MoD Bonuses
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Liam Fox (born on Sept. 22, 1961) is a British Conservative politician, currently Shadow Defence Secretary and Member of Parliament for Woodspring.

The families of some of the British soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan have responded angrily to revelations that bonuses totalling £47m will be paid to Ministry of Defence staff this year. Kevan Jones, the Defence Minister revealed the figure in a response to a Parliamentary question from shadow Defence Secretary, Dr. Liam Fox.

Defending the decision, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said that MoD civilians do “difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs”. This could be regarded as a little insensitive with the casualties in Afghanistan mounting.

Hazel Hunt, whose 21-year-old son, Richard, died in a blast while on vehicle patrol in August, described the performance-related bonuses as “obscene.” “They have got such bonuses while our troops are being short-changed,” she said, “not only in equipment but also in the fact that my son was barely on £17,000 a year.”

Army privates like Richard earn £16,681 a year, with a six-month tax-free operational allowance of £2,380 if they are posted to Afghanistan. The Conservatives say that the troops serving over there will be angry to hear of the payments.

The MoD said that around 50,000 staff received bonuses under previously-arranged pay deals, and that the average paid was less than £1,000. An MoD spokesman said, “These pay awards are met from within salary budget and have no impact on the operational or equipment budget.”

This will be of little comfort to the troops serving in Afghanistan while they struggle with helicopter shortages and scarcity of spare parts for vehicles and aircraft due to inadequate planning by the MoD. As Dr. Fox told the Daily Telegraph, “Many in the armed forces will be aghast that bonuses are being paid on the basis of ‘outstanding performance’.”

The MoD was recently slammed in a damning report on an incident involving a Nimrod aircraft that crashed with the loss of lives of all on board. It has been further criticised for its systems for buying equipment. Auditors say that they are wasting millions of pounds, and have a payroll system that is inefficient and open to fraud.

Dr. Fox said that the fact that the bonuses are based on outstanding performance “will only increase the view that the armed forces and the MoD administration are hugely out of balance.”



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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