Paratroopers face danger payment cuts

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AFP/File – Prince William (right) talks to members of the Parachute Regiment in November 2010 at Camp Bastion in …

LONDON (AFP) – Thousands of members of the Parachute Regiment could lose a bonus that recognises the additional dangers they face, under Ministry of Defence cost cutting plans.

The Army is looking at reducing the number of personnel fully trained to parachute, meaning fewer will qualify for the extra payment of £180 a month.

For the lowest paid private this could mean a pay cut of up to 10 percent.

Almost 5,000 parachute-trained members of the armed forces currently receive the supplement of nearly £6 a day.

Among those likely to be affected by any cuts are quartermasters and cooks with 16 Air Assault Brigade, who are traditionally trained in parachuting.

However the MoD said most soldiers would remain fully trained to parachute.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said it was right that at a time of public spending restrictions “people who would never be asked to jump out of the back of a plane” might lose the payment.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the move would save £4 million a year, affecting up to 4,000 soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan.

“This is going to really strike at morale,” the Telegraph quoted a senior officer as saying.

“These blokes have just got back from putting their lives on the line for their country and now their government is forcing a 10 percent pay cut on them. It’s so outrageous that people just laugh.”

The proposals come as the government tries to cut defence spending by eight percent over four years following last year’s strategic defence and security review.

However the MoD said no decisions had been taken on the extent of the changes and no one would see their pay drop for at least a year after any change.

“In light of the SDSR (strategic defence and security review) it is likely that the majority of Parachute Regiment soldiers will remain fully trained to parachute but the parachute requirement for 16 Air Assault Brigade as a whole will be reduced,” the MoD said in a statement.

“Soldiers who remain fully trained to parachute will continue to receive specialist pay. Personnel will be informed as soon as these plans have been finalised.”

Thu May 26, 6:47 am ET   Read more:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110526/wl_uk_afp/britaindefencecuts

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