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Tobias Ellwood: Troops should be given pay boost to protect recruitment

The minister said investment was needed if the UK was to maintain its defence posture.

Britain’s armed forces need to be given a pay rise in order to protect recruitment, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has said.

The move could see pay rises for tens of thousands of personnel, but is estimated to cost hundreds of millions of pounds over several years.

The minister suggested that the country would have to spend “north of 2.5%” of gross domestic product (GDP) in order to pay for increased salaries and new jets, warships and other equipment.

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Tobias Ellwood made the recommendation (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The independent body that advises the Government on pay for members of the Army, Navy and RAF has provided its recommendations for the 2018-2019 pay round.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said an announcement would be made in due course, but The Times reports the body has recommended an increase of about 3%.

The Government announced in September that it was lifting the 1% public sector pay cap, which has been in place since 2010.

However, an announcement on how armed forces pay may change was delayed.

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A soldier on parade (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Ellwood, a former Army captain, told The Times that while people do not join the armed forces “for the money as such”, pay must not become a reason “as to why they would be deterred from it”.

He added: “There needs to be a pay rise. We have still got to conclude the defence modernisation programme but you would need to move north of 2.5% to make any of this work, if you want to retain the same defence posture given the dangers, the complexities of the world that we face.”

Mr Ellwood has previously suggested the armed forces should receive funding on a par with the NHS.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the UK spent 9.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare in 2016.

On Friday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson warned Britain must continue to invest in its conventional armed forces if it is to deter aggressors such as a resurgent Russia.

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An RAF Typhoon from RAF Lossiemouth flying over the newly installed Air Defence Radar at Saxa Vord, on the Island of Unst, Shetland (Trish James/MoD/PA).

In comments likely to be seen as aimed at Chancellor Philip Hammond, he said investing in the military was about “making sure things do not happen”.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is said to be facing a budgetary black hole of at least £20 billion over the next decade.

Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Times a 3% increase would cost around £200 million a year.

If Mr Hammond declines to give the MoD more money to pay for increased salaries it would have to come from the department’s own stretched budget.

An MoD spokesman said: “The Armed Forces Pay Review Body’s recommendations for the 2018 pay award are being considered by the Government and an announcement will be made in due course.”

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