Action promised on army pay

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt speaks to the media outside the Ministry of Defence in London October 13, 2006. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government would do “everything it could” to help members of the armed forces after the head of the Army complained that troops were paid less than traffic wardens.

General Sir Richard Dannatt called for above-inflation pay rises for those in the services for the next couple of years in order to keep up morale.

“If you compare a traffic warden and a police constable on overtime, I think you will find that an individual serviceman gets paid quite a lot less,” he told the Sun newspaper.

“To make sure that we have armed services, in my case an army, populated by motivated and well-trained people, we have got to look after their individual needs well enough, so that things like housing, pay and medical welfare have got to be good.”

The Ministry of Defence pointed out that the armed forces had received the largest pay increase of those working in the public sector last year.

In addition, those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan receive a tax-free bonus while the government said troops benefit from an overall package including housing, food, and operational allowances.

However, Brown said the contribution made by the armed forces would be recognised.

“We will continue to try to reward our armed forces for the dedication and commitment they show, often in very difficult theatres of war,” he said.

“We will do everything in our power in the years to come to recognise the great individual contribution that is made by all the members of the Army, the navy, and the air force.”

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison