In the final 'myth-busting' instalment from the NEM team, they attempt to convince us that our allowances will not be cut further and that our pay system will become more fair and transparent.
Both measures will be welcomed if the NEM can actually deliver on these promises! The proposed model will provide a single rank-based pay structure, with additional pay being allocated through a pay supplement, with the supplement being dependant on an individual's trade and will apply throughout their career. Will this mean that specialists, such as pilots or Paras, will no longer have to re-validate their qualifications and will retain their specialist pay despite not being in-role? If this is the case, it will be at a significant cost to the overall salary budget! The Adjutant General, Lieutenant General Gerald Berragan, claims:
"The NEM is looking at a new pay model that will address the common complaints with Pay 2000 and deliver a simpler and fairer pay structure. The pay budget will be used more efficiently to support the Armed Forces, but there is no intention to deliver savings. Equally, the NEM will not strip away allowances, or cut the rate at which they are paid. But the current range of allowances is complex and difficult to understand. What is required is simplification and consolidation, such that people can be clearer about what they can claim and when… We need to consolidate the other allowances, ensuring that they are better targeted, harmonised tri-Service, and they better support individual lifestyle choice (single, married, partners). These changes are about simpler, more focused allowances, delivered more efficiently, not savings."
If the General can truly deliver a pay model for our Service personnel that 'will not strip away allowances, or cut the rate at which they are paid', when at the same time consolidating a number of allowances ensuring that they are better targeted and harmonised across the Services, then he should be canonised (no pun intended – the AG is a Gunner)! The drivers for the NEM are threefold: agility, attractiveness and affordability.
- The Services require a manning model that is agile enough to ride through the boom and bust of the economy without drastic action (such as the current round of Redundancy).
- We require a remuneration scheme that is attractive to not only future recruits, but also those who are currently serving.
- Finally, the Services must be realistic and ensure whatever schemes are proposed, are affordable. The series of 'myth-busters' has predominantly focussed on attractive measures and has completely ignored an original planning constraint for the NEM – that it should be cost neutral.
In fact, we have been fortunate that the Secretary of State has maintained a hard line with the Treasury and that we have a Chancellor who believes that Britain has "the finest armed forces in the world - and we intend to keep it that way." However, the MoD has still its share of the pan-government £11.5 billion cuts to find in the 2015-2016 Planning Round, never mind what will come thereafter! That the NEM team can suggest that all of these fantastic new proposals will come without cutting allowances or pay seems unsustainable – perhaps they should forget their mythology and focus on reality?