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Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) operates a Long Service Advance of Pay scheme that provides a loan to assist service personnel to enter the housing market. Since September 2006, in conjunction with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the MOD has negotiated Key Worker status for service personnel. This gives them access to the New Build HomeBuy and First Time Buyer Initiative schemes operating in the South, South East and East of England.
The MOD continues to look for innovative ways to work with the commercial sector to provide bespoke home buyer packages for service personnel who are encouraged to prepare for return to civilian life during their careers by purchasing their own homes. To further assist them, the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides service personnel with advice and guidance on all forms of accommodation, public and private.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of the reductions in his Department's housing budget on the standards of accommodation provided to service personnel. 
Derek Twigg: The MOD is not reducing its spending on service housing accommodation. On the contrary, the Department has increased its expenditure on housing. Total expenditure in 2007-08 is currently forecast above that of 2006-07.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on (a) maintenance, (b) refurbishment and (c) new build in relation to armed forces accommodation in each of the last five years; what the projected expenditure is over the next five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: Although most expenditure on service accommodation is managed by Defence Estates (DE), some expenditure remains in the hands of other top level budget holders, or is contained within private finance initiative (PFI) and this could be separately identified only at disproportionate cost.
Standard 1 for Condition = S1FC.
Single Living Accommodation = SLA.
Following the comprehensive spending review (CSR), budgets are currently being set for the next three years. However, the CSR has ring-fenced the £550 million investment on armed forces accommodation over the next three years. The Department has subsequently committed a further £80 million to Single Living Accommodation Modernisation phase 2 in addition to the £335 million programme previously announced.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since 1 March 2005 his Departments officials have discussed with officials
of (a) the Department of Health, (b) NATO and (c) the United States administration planning for a potential influenza pandemic; on what dates those discussions took place; what the content of the discussions was; and if he will make a statement. 
The MOD has regular meetings with Department of Health and Health Protection Agency (HPA) officials. An MOD Consultant Public Health Physician is a standing member of the HPA Influenza and Respiratory Programme Board, which meets monthly to discuss influenza pandemic issues such as the latest research, exercises, port health, vaccines, anti-virals and developments.
In addition, UK National preparations are being co-ordinated by the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS), whose role is to ensure that the UK is resilient in the event of a disruptive challenge such as pandemic flu. Cross-departmental pandemic flu planning has been under way since early-2005 through the MISC 32 Flu Working Group (FWG) which a representative from the MOD attends. At the last meeting of this group on 12 December 2007, the 23(rd) to be held, its name was changed to the Pandemic Flu Implementation Group (PFIG) to signify a step change in its work programme from policy development to policy implementation. Additionally, in the last two years there have been two cross-government pandemic flu exercises; Shared Goal(held in 2006) and Winter Willow (held during January and February this year). The Department was involved in both exercises as part of the central Government response, providing development assistance, personnel to man the COBR cell and Min(AF) representing the MOD at the ministerial Civil Contingencies Committee. In the case of Winter Willow, MOD additionally participated through Joint Regional Liaison Officers (JRLOs) engagement in regional exercise play.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) overpayments and (b) underpayments there were to Armed Forces personnel in each month since January 2007; and at what cost. 
|The following notes specifically relate to months with 2,000+ over/underpayments:|
(1) Following migration of Army data onto the JPA system, a decision was taken not to recover some elements until the migration process had been validated. Recovered in May.
(2) The majority of the underpayment were caused by University Officer Training Corps inputs. 3,340 minor errors were encountered due to the non migration of some data elements resulting in minor over or underpayments. Resolved in month.
(3) The majority of the overpayments (2,611) were due to double payment of the female clothing grant to reservists (£4.50), recovered in October.
(4) Comprised 35,553 incorrect deductions of £3.00 in respect of contributions to the discontinued Royal Navy and Royal Marines Dependants Fund, and 10,752 underpayments of Home to Duty Travel claims for Royal Navy reservists. The former was re-credited to pay accounts in October, and the latter underpayments paid in September.
(5) 4,249 additional cases occurred where the incorrect rank on the Joint Personnel Administration system would have generated an incorrect payment. Corrective action was taken in time for the October pay run.
Details of the specific over and underpayments to individuals could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Error rates are expected to decrease as the professional users (unit admin, manpower specialists) gain familiarity with the system and undergo follow on training, consolidating their knowledge with lessons identified from the JPA project and formal user groups both single and tri-service.
|Change in the average salary||Change in RPI|
The average salary per financial year from 2001-02 for military personnel has been calculated using (i) the number of full-time equivalent service personnel and (ii) the expenditure recorded in the department's accounts for service salaries and wages. These figures include some allowances, such as separation allowance, and education allowance, which are included with pay.
Derek Twigg: The Department does not have a specific budget ceiling for telephone allowances. Each eligible Service person is entitled to 30 minutes of publicly funded call time per week. The cost of this call time will vary according to whether the call is made on a cabin satellite telephone, an IRIDIUM satellite telephone, an INMARSAT telephone or by one of several other means and whether the call is made to a UK landline, mobile telephone or to an overseas destination. The amount paid will also vary dependent upon the amount of the allowance personnel use. Moreover, whilst telephone allowances for exercises and enduring tasks such as the Falkland Islands are paid for by the Department, the cost of the telephone allowance for personnel deployed on contingent operations, e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan, is met by HM Treasury and is not paid from the Ministry of Defence budget. For illustrative purposes only, the average amount paid to the welfare communications contractor for the second half of Financial Year 2006-2007, after the allowance had increased to 30 minutes, was £504,000 per month. This would equate to some £6 million per annum.
|Rank||Average salary (£)|
The figures refer to service personnel who are on the main pay scales and exclude specialist groups such as Chaplains, Veterinary Officers, Officers Promoted from the Ranks and Medical and Dental Officers. Basic pay refers to salary paid in accordance with an individuals rank, length of service and trade. Specialist pay, allowances and other payments have been excluded. For illustrative purposes Army ranks have been used.
All armed forces personnel are on incremental pay ranges. The above averages have been calculated by taking the pay bill for the incremental range for each rank or rank grouping and dividing by the number of service personnel on it.
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