Labour MP attacks ‘absolute scandal’ as MoD spends millions on school fees while making thousands of soldiers redundant
The government is facing calls to end an “absolute scandal” in which the Ministry of Defence pays private school fees for the children of serving military personnel while troops are being made redundant.
A Labour MP said there is “no legitimate reason” why the government should prioritise subsidies for private education over frontline troops after figures showed the MoD spent £65.8m on school fees last year while making 2,900 soldiers redundant at a cost of £158m.
The figures, released in a parliamentary answer from defence minister Andrew Robathan to Labour MP Pamela Nash, show that £212m has been spent on the continuity of education allowance since 2010. The MoD separately told the Commons defence select committee it was making 2,900 army personnel redundant in 2012-13 at a cost of £158m.
Nash, MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: “This seems like the completely wrong priority given the current pressures on funding at the MoD. But there is no legitimate reason why in the 21st century the MoD needs to be so heavily subsidising private education over the jobs of frontline troops.
“It is an absolute scandal when you think that this amount of money is being spent at a time when thousands of soldiers are losing their jobs. How many of these thousands of soldiers would these millions of pounds have kept on the frontline instead sent to the dole queue? ” In his answer to Nash, Robathan said the allowance helped to give service personnel’s children a stable education from the age of eight. The figures do not distinguish between payments made to parents who educate their children at private or maintained schools.He added: “It is worth remembering that this allowance is open to all eligible personnel, officers and other ranks.” He said about 50% of claimants were from other ranks. Nash said this still favoured officers because officersthey only make up 14% of the army.The MoD says the allowance is designed to subsidise a boarding school education to “help provide continuity of education for a child and enable the spouse of a service person to accompany them on postings”. Parents are expected to contribute a minimum 10% of the school fees.
The continuity of education allowance is used to pay school fees for the children of soldiers diplomats and aid staff.he MoD says the allowance is designed to subsidise a boarding school education to “help provide continuity of education for a child and enable the spouse of a service person to accompany them on postings”. Parents are expected to contribute a minimum 10% of the school fees.