The Times: UK military morale at five-year low over poor pay, housing

    WORLD  02 June 2023 - 16:53

    Morale in the armed forces has dropped to a five-year low with half of those serving dissatisfied with their pay and widespread frustration at substandard housing, according to Ministry of Defence figures.

    Servicemen and women are facing a real-terms cut to their incomes after they were awarded a below-inflation pay rise of 3.75 per cent this year. By comparison, civil servants — who, unlike soldiers, are able to go on strike — have been offered a 4.5 per cent pay rise for 2023-24, The Times reports.

    An annual survey by the MoD shows that just three in ten members of the armed forces agree their pay is fair. Five in ten are dissatisfied with their earnings.

    The decrepit state of service accommodation has also led to widespread loss of confidence in the MoD’s ability to manage military properties.

    The figures show that just one in five in the armed forces are satisfied with how quickly requests for maintenance and repairs to properties are carried out. The same proportion say they are happy with the quality of the work.

    Overall, only 46 per cent are satisfied with the standard of housing.

    The bosses of Vivo, Amey and Pinnacle — the three companies awarded £650 million of government contracts to maintain MoD properties — were summoned to meet ministers last year after military families began uploading videos online of water streaming through their roofs and babies sleeping next to mouldy walls.

    One crumbling Royal Navy base, HMS Collingwood, was forced to shut down after maggots and silverfish were found in the fridge freezers.

    Overall satisfaction with life in the military fell from 50 per cent last year to 42 per cent this year — its lowest since 2018.

    The survey shows that RAF personnel are particularly disillusioned after a year of scandals. Senior officers were criticised for their handling of sexual harassment allegations in the Red Arrows, while a botched attempt to improve diversity led to 31 white male pilots being compensated after they were overlooked for training courses.

    Satisfaction in the RAF is at its lowest on record with just 37 per cent happy in their jobs, while confidence in senior leaders has halved in just two years and is now at a record low.

    Only 18 per cent of those in the RAF have confidence in their leadership, the survey shows.

    John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, said there was a “crisis in military morale”. “Whilst ministers cut the British Army to its smallest size since Napoleon, forces personnel and their families are forced to live in accommodation with mould, damp and leaking roofs,” he said.

    Robert Clark, a defence expert at the Civitas think tank, said low morale had led to recruitment problems.

    “These record low levels of satisfaction within the forces is indicative of just how poor the leadership has been across senior level,” he said.

    “From discrimination and recruiting scandals in the RAF to the unacceptable state of much of the army’s accommodation, combined with repeated below-inflation pay, leaves little wonder that many troops are voting with their feet, and leaving in record numbers.”

    An MOD spokesman said: “The well-being of our serving personnel is a priority, and this survey is key to helping us understand where improvement is required, and where measures we have introduced are working.

    “We remain committed to identifying areas where our personnel are not satisfied and building on the recent measures introduced to ensure the armed forces is a place our people are proud to serve.

    “We have already introduced a raft of measures, including a new victim and witness care unit and policy reforms such as our new zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable sexual behaviour, which will ensure that anyone convicted of a sexual offence will be dismissed from service.

    “We continue to build confidence in both the service justice and service complaints system so that personnel feel confident to report incidents and have faith that their complaints will be acted upon.”

    Caliber.Az

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