HL Deb 04 March 2003 vol 645 cc98-9WA
Lord Rogan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether reserve members of the Armed Forces who are called up for service in the Gulf will be entitled to overseas allowances; and, if not, why not; and [HL1673]

Whether members of the Armed Forces currently based in the United Kingdom will be entitled to overseas allowances if and when deployed to the Gulf; and, if not, why not; and [HL1671]

Whether members of the Armed Forces currently based overseas and in receipt of overseas allowances will still benefit from these allowances, if and when deployed to the Gulf; and, if not, why not. [HL1672]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach)

Regular and reserve personnel deployed to the Gulf from the United Kingdom will usually not receive local overseas allowance (LOA) as the operational welfare package (OWP) is being made available to the great majority of those engaged on operations. LOA is constructed around the lifestyle of personnel based overseas, but the needs of those deployed on operations are quite different and are addressed by the OWP. The package will be delivered in stages, commensurate with the operation. The intention is to implement the communication elements of the package as soon as possible, taking account of the lack of infrastructure and harsh environment in many deployed locations. This will allow deployed personnel 20 minutes of publicly funded telephone calls per week; free forces aerogrammes and concessionary parcel rates; access to the internet and e-mail; and newspapers. Additionally, BFBS TV and radio; televisions, video recorders and videotapes; Expeditionary Forces Institute shops; and publicly funded laundry will be provided as soon as practicable.

Local overseas allowance (LOA) is not part of the military salary or a reward for overseas service. It is a tax-free cost of living addition paid only in circumstances were personnel are likely to incur greater day-to-day expenditure overseas than they would in the United Kingdom. This is not generally the case for those deployed on operations. It is accepted that those personnel who are temporarily deployed away from their permanent, LOA earning, duty station, while no longer incurring the full range of additional costs associated with that station, still have ongoing financial commitments overseas, and that many have families who remain at the permanent duty station. Consequently, all service personnel continue to receive the full LOA rate for the first 17 days of their deployment. Additionally, married accompanied personnel continue to receive the full LOA rate unless their accompanying spouse also leaves the permanent duty station for more than 17 days, at which point an abatement of approximately 35 per cent is applied. Single or married unaccompanied personnel lose 20 per cent of their full LOA rate after the first 17 days.