Parachute Regiment soldiers face 'special payment' cut

Thousands of members of the Parachute Regiment and others could lose special payments for their parachuting skills, under MoD cost-cutting plans.

The Army may cut the number of troops trained to parachute in 16 Air Assault Brigade, lowering the number who qualify for the £180-a-month bonus.

The move would involve a 10% pay cut for the lowest-paid privates.

The MoD said most of the brigade's soldiers would remain fully trained to parachute.

However, it insisted no decisions had yet been taken on the extent of the changes

Currently almost 5,000 parachute-trained members of the armed forces receive the special supplement of nearly £6 a day in recognition of the extra risks and skills involved in parachuting.

Reorganising Army

Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade is the largest brigade in the Army with about 8,000 personnel in total. As well as the Parachute Regiment, its units provide artillery, engineers, logistical and medical capabilities.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the move could be a significant blow to morale for the soldiers of 16 Air Assault Brigade who have just returned from Helmand, in Afghanistan.

While the Parachute Regiment has not made an operational jump since the Suez crisis in 1956, the SAS - of which more than 50% are Paras - parachuted in the Falklands, as well as more recently into Baghdad, our correspondent added.

Among those affected by the move could be quartermasters and cooks in 16 Air Assault Brigade who are traditionally trained to parachute.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman public spending restrictions meant it was right that "people who would never be asked to jump out of the back of a plane" could lose their payments.

But the MoD said no-one affected would see their pay drop for at least a year after any change.

Last year's strategic defence and security review (SDSR) outlined the future shape and size of Britain's armed forces with defence spending set to fall by 8% over four years.

In a statement the MoD said the review "looked at reorganising the Army structure over the next 10 years to enable it to best meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond".

It added: "In light of the SDSR, it is likely that the majority of Parachute Regiment soldiers will remain fully trained to parachute but the parachute requirement for 16 Air Assault Brigade as a whole will be reduced.

"Soldiers who remain fully trained to parachute will continue to receive specialist pay. Personnel will be informed as soon as these plans have been finalised."

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