Eight thousand poorly paid troops have been denied a salary rise after an accounting trick by defence officials.
Their basic wages were recalculated so it appeared they earned above the £24,000 threshold for an increase – which is in force as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s public sector pay pause.
Incorporating an allowance into their basic salary denied 8,200 troops a much-needed £250 a year rise.
Those affected by the sleight of hand included soldiers who rescued refugees and British nationals following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
The move, exposed by the Daily Mail, triggered widespread condemnation last night with ministers urged to do a U-turn.
Those affected by the sleight of hand included soldiers who rescued refugees and British nationals following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Since the 1970s, personnel have received an allowance – known as X-Factor – on top of their basic pay to recognise the threat to their lives, time spent apart from their families and the inflexibility in service working practices.
X-Factor, which pays troops making the most sacrifices an extra 14.5 per cent, has always been considered separate to their basic pay – because not all military personnel receive it.
The 2021 report by the Government’s pay watchdog the Armed Forces Pay Review Body confirms this practice should continue, arguing that allowances and premium payments ‘should not be included in an employee’s basic pay figure’.
Yet the Ministry of Defence did just that, lowering the number of troops entitled to a pay rise from 43,800 to 35,600 and saving £6.5million. The £250 for low earners was intended to ensure base pay for this group was not eroded by inflation.
Incorporating an allowance into their basic salary denied 8,200 troops a much-needed £250 a year rise
Tory former defence minister Mark Francois described the MoD’s decision as ‘utterly mean-spirited’.
Labour Armed Forces spokesman Stephen Morgan accused the MoD of ‘conning’ the lowest earning troops.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘The X-Factor is a component of the military salary that recognises the special conditions of service experienced by members of the Armed Forces.’
They added that a review will examine how this will be treated in future.