Yesterday's AFPRB announcement that a pay freeze will continue to be enforced, for all but the lowest paid, comes as no great surprise and is confirmation that the Armed Forces will experience a further decline to their salaries over the next few years. Army families will, however, find the increase to accommodation charges unacceptable and are further confirmation of a cut in real terms to their household incomes. (Those soldiers 'living-in' face the extra whammy of an increase to food charges). The increase to accommodation charges is doubly insulting due to the spending pause on housing which will see the condition of Service Families Accommodation decline. Further proof of the dwindling 'fortunes' of our Forces families come from the House of Common's Library where figures demonstrate the effects of inflation in real terms to soldier's salaries over a three year period, predicting that a Private will feel over three thousand pounds worse off whilst Warrant Officers can expect to see the value of their salaries reduced by eight thousand pounds as the pay freeze/cap and inflation take their toll. And, all of this information received in an already fearful Army as the redundancy tranche seeks out its victims.
Until the big ticket items of pay, housing and pensions are suitably addressed Army families will continue to feel let down. The Armed Forces Covenant, heralded by the Government as demonstrating its commitment to the Armed Forces, can only go some way to halt the freefalling state of morale and despite its good intentions is akin to ordering loads of optional extras on a car with no engine.