Rising TA band costs hit events - Local - News Letter CHARITY fundraising events are being thrown into turmoil by a recent ten-fold hike in the cost of hiring Territorial Army bands, the News Letter can reveal. A decision to increase the charge from £300 to £3,000 has already led to the cancellation of an ABF The Soldiers Charity event, which was set to take place at Belfast City Hall next week. In a statement, the charity said they depended on fundraising for providing welfare for the troops. We are disappointed that the costs to us of TA bands, such as the band of the Royal Irish Regiment, have been increased and we hope that an agreement satisfactory to all affected service charities can be brokered soon. The decision to cancel the March 19 concert was made purely on financial grounds and now other avenues to raise funds for soldiers, ex-soldiers and their families whom are in need, are being explored. North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey blasted Ministry of Defence officials as foolish for the ten-fold increase. But an MoD spokesman has told the News Letter that the price was necessary because of financially difficult times. Mr Humphrey who works closely with the ABF The Soldiers Charity after having it as one of his nominated charities as deputy lord mayor of Belfast has called for concerted political action to bring pressure on the MoD to reverse their decision. Service charities like the ABF, Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes are generating millions of pounds every year that are being put directly into the support of serving and former servicemen and their families, he told the News Letter. They are providing services that would otherwise have to be paid for by the taxpayer, so this pennypinching on the part of the MoD is sheer madness. Tens of thousands of people in Northern Ireland receive the support of service charities and many more are eligible for their support, but we need to support them too. All of us need to stand up to the MoD to make sure that their efforts are not damaged and that we do not lose access to our TA bands. I will be writing to the secretary of state to ask that he raises this matter with the prime minister, who has been vocal about our need to honour the forces covenant. I will also be asking my DUP colleagues to raise this matter at every opportunity in Westminster. A spokesman for the MoD responded to the News Letters story, saying: HM Treasury policy requires that when military bands perform in support of external organisations including service charities the assumption is that full costs (including salaries, overheads and expenses) should be charged. However, service charities are considered to be of benefit to defence outputs so it is possible to abate the costs charged to marginal costs (which are the additional costs incurred for that particular event for example, travel and subsistence). Policy on charging for TA bands is subject to review as the considerable contribution that TA bands make to local communities and service charities is important and is recognised as such. This contribution is, though, a real cost to defence and must be prioritised against all the other demands on defence in these financially difficult times.