Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Army job losses 'kick in the teeth'

The Government is attempting to reduce the number of regulars to 82,000 in 2018

More than 4,000 soldiers have been told that they have lost their jobs in the latest round of Army redundancies.

A total of 4,480 Army personnel have been made redundant in the latest tranche of job losses - lower than the anticipated 5,300 - as the Government tries to reduce the number of regulars to 82,000 by 2018.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said the move is necessary to help balance the books but insisted operational capability would not be affected.

But Labour described the job losses for those who had not applied for redundancy as a "real kick in the teeth".

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "Our thoughts are with all those leaving the Army and their families. It is significant that so many have chosen to leave in such a tough economic climate. For the 700-plus who have been sacked, this is a real kick in the teeth. Each and every one deserves support to resettle in to civilian life and help finding work."

The losses are the third instalment of job cuts arising from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and confined to the Army.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "It is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to deliver the reduction in the size of the armed forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this Government inherited. Although smaller, our armed forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need. They will continue to be the bedrock of our society and provide extremely rewarding and exciting careers for future recruits."

Mr Hammond had told the Commons that the savings demanded of his department in this month's spending review would not require further cuts to the size of the armed forces, and would meet its share of the £11.5 billion cuts through efficiency savings.

Catherine Spencer, chief executive of the Army Families Federation, said although it seemed promising that a small proportion of the redundancies were compulsory, it was still more than 700 families who would be in a "pretty miserable place" today.

She said: "We have said for some time that defence cuts are impacting on the Army and Army families. The Army is doing everything it normally does - it's present in Afghanistan, on top of that it's dealing with redundancies, rebasing, amalgamating units, all of which creates an enormous amount of work. It could be that the high level of voluntary redundancies is people looking at the new structure of the Army and what they will have to do and thinking life is better outside. The armed forces isn't Tesco, we can't just recruit from elsewhere. We need these highly skilled, trained soldiers to be ready whenever they need to be ready."

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