With much fanfare Gordon Brown has announced a 25% council tax rebate for servicemen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Conservative defence spokesman Liam Fox shows that the money for this rebate is coming from the existing defence budget and servicemen will still be more poorly treated by this arrangement that convicted prisoners...
- No new cash. There is no new funding for today’s announcement – cash will be reallocated from the existing MoD budget.
- Rebate ‘less than prisoners’. Prisoners pay no council tax at all in the UK – but if you serve in Iraq or Afghanistan for six months, today’s announcement means personnel will get just £140 off. This means that over the course of a year, troops are still £1,181 worse off than a prisoner (based on Band D).
- Fiddled figures mean less cash for troops. Today’s MoD press release boasts a 25 per cent rebate based upon ‘the average Band D Council tax bill’. But the small print shows that they’ve not actually used the Band D figure to calculate the rebate. Instead, they’ve used the figure for average council tax. This means, troops living in Band D accommodation, such as families, are getting £25 less than they should (£140 rather than £165).
Liam Fox commented:
“Gordon Brown loves to grab a good headline and pretend he’s backing our troops. But as ever, when you look at the small print, you discover it’s another con trick. This will squeeze the frontline budget as there is no new money. The discriminatory nature of this discount will fuel divisions within the Armed Forces as it only applies to those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that prisoners pay no council tax, while our boys on the frontline do, shows how low a priority the Armed Forces are under Gordon Brown.”