I recently wrote to soldier magazine with a view to trying to get an answer as to why married unaccompanied personnel in the Army have to pay an SLA charge but those in the other two services do not. Given that we now have a Joint Service Pay publication one would expect that allowances would be the same. Sadly not.

I recieved a reply back this morning which has angered me beyond belief, not because it was not the answer I was hoping for but because of the attitude it displays. I have posted my original letter bleow alon with the reply and my response to that reply:

NB: This is not posted in the NAAFI bar so sensible comments only please.


I am a 29 year old Army Officer serving voluntary married un-accompanied, and living in an RAF Mess. I was interested to note that my RAF colleagues do not pay an accommodation charge when they serve unaccompanied and was given a reference in JSP 754. Given that I have been paying an accommodation charge since I married just over a year ago I thought that it was an administrative error and I would be able to claim back the pay. When I checked the JSP I was sadly mistaken, apparently Army personnel under 37, serving VOLSEP pay accommodation charges but the RAF and Navy do not. The only provision made by the Army for those who seek to provide stability for their families by maintaining their own home is the over 37 package, I am however several years away from being eligible for this. Why do we have a JSP, and then have different Single Service “quirks”? I feel I am being discriminated against on three counts, because I am in the Army, under 37 and wish to provide my family with stability in this environment of increased operational tempo.


Dear Captain XXXX,

I have received a reply to email of 1 Feb. The response is from Brigadier
Jamie Gordon, DPS(A):

"The current SLA charging policy for voluntary unaccompanied personnel
differs across the three Services due to specific single-service requirements. The Army encourages accompanied service, particularly for
those below 37 years of age, and as a consequence only gives an
entitlement to a waiver of SLA charges for its personnel once they have reached 37. The policy was due to be reviewed within the proposals of home ownership as part of the Strategic Remuneration Review, shortly to be decided. I anticipate no resolution, so we will return to the charge."

I am sorry it is not the answer you are looking for.



Doreen Cadwallader (Major (Retd))
Editorial Assistant
Soldier Magazine
94222 2360 (01252 347360)

My bold, that was the bit which lit the blue touch paper and was the catalyst for this response.

Dear Doreen,

Thank you for your email, and taking the time to present this case to the chain of command. I must say it was a very disappointing attitude displayed by the Army. To say the Army encourages accompanied service is an ill thought out response. What that translates to is that the Army wants their personnel to disrupt their famillies every two years, or less as increasingly frequently the case, so that their children have to move schools and lose the stability of a familliar educational environment; that spouses should not have a career too, thus limiting the quality of life that patrents can provide their family; that given the high operational tempo spouses must be left to cope on their own rather than being able to be in the familliar surroundings of their own home and near to their own families; that the only way to ensure continuity of education for one's children is to send tham away to boarding school rather than keeping them in in a family home environment thus abrogating the responsibility for raising their children to strangers; to encourage married personnel to move into substandard housing, which is poorly maintained, poorly insulated so that they have very high energy bills, that they can never call their own home as they are only ever transient. To put an age bar on SLA charging is also ridculous, what difference is there between an individual who is 36 six years and 264 days old as opposed to one who is 37, the answer is none at all. What is even more galling is that the Brigadier speaks of a forthcoming review but it appears a decision has already been taken to continue this unrealistic, out of touch and discriminatory policy. What the Army needs to accept is that it is the Service person who is living in SLA that is making a big sacrifice in order to best look after their family. This is just another example of not changing things because it is easier not to, we would still be marching into battle wearing red coats if it was the easier option. This is the same organisation which increased the charges for married quarters more than they increased pay this round so yet again the serviceman is out of pocket. Would this have happened with a civillian employer, no. Why, because the Unions would have been straight to the throat at such a display of discrimination. Of course we in the Armed Forces are not allowed to be members of a Union. We have been given permisson to form a Federatoin however, but who are they, how does one contact them, what can they do for us? I dispair for the Serviceman, increasingly called upon to do more but given less and less, and the MOD wonders why there is a retention issue. We join the Forces because we are driven by a desire to serve our country, we are highly motivated driven individuals who give our loyalty and our blood is it too much to ask that we be supported in giving the best possible quality of life to those that support us?

I apologise for venting in this manner but I was tuely disappointed at the attitude displayed by the chain of command. Please feel free to pass these comments on to the editorial team if you view them as worthy of publication, otherwise thank you for your efforts.


My bold again, anyone know the answer?
Well if you want to go on about discrimination there are certain area's where singlies are discriminated also. Where do I start.... food charges also, movement of singlies kit abroad. I am not going into depth, the reason being I will be considering maritial discrimination upon leaving the army in disscussion with my lawyer. And being SPS I believe I have the ammunition and plenty of bullets!!!

Many years ben I and lots of other single soldiers have been rammed up the bottom by the MOD as a Singly, I intend to fightback, I hope the policy makers are reading this .... cnuts :evil:
Best of luck with this one mate. I think you've just about summed up there what a lot of us have been feeling for a while, although I couldn't put it quite so well.
Like bitterandtwisted says there are numerous other foibles like this that are well known and have been drawn to the attention of the upper echelons time and again. Yet do they make a concerted effort to iron them out do they balls.
Surely someone must realise that all these irregularities (or damn right discrimination in some cases) in policy are undermining moral.
It is quite clear that as we have no effective organisation to back us up that no one gives a f£*k. Time and again we are effectively patted on the head and ignored.
Just one of the many reasons after as an SNCO with 16 years behind me I have chosen to walk.

I have just joined the BAFF and am giving them the benefit of the doubt before I finally declare them crap. I feel very strongly about the numerous other foibles you speak of and yes it is having a serious effect on morale. Tell the BAFF, give them a chance to sort it out, if they don't know they can't engage with the powers that be. To the govt, come on we do enough for you, how about doing something for us. It wouldn't take much, no income tax on ops, tax free savings, better subsidies on travel, better education grants. All small things but would go a long way to improving the quality of life for all ranks.
You have a point - but has anybody done the maths - if we could convince the Gov that actually this would be cost benefit - they would go for it.

Not enough time to do myself - :cry:

Sadly I could not disagree with you more. Wiser and more experienced heads than yours have pondered over this for a long time and decided that it is the best of the Army for its officers and soldiers to be accompanied and that is how our rules are structured. The circumsatnces of the RAF and RN are very different to ours, hence a different rules.

I understand fully all the arguments about houses, spouse's careers and children but there is another side to that coin; I have seen more divorces that you have had ORPs and the vast majority of them were due to prolonged separations of the husband and wife, then there all the problems with extra marital relationships. It really is not condusive to a successful marriage to spend long periods apart by choice. I can vouch for this having had my 30th anniversary last month, achieving this by; my wife following the flag, living in horrible Quarters and sending the patch brats to boarding school. These are some of the sacrifices we make to serve as Army officers. It is also the reason that the govt allow us to have CEA which is retention vital, as no-one would want to join an Army knowing that accompanied service was not supported.

Again sadly it is up to you, these are the rules of the job and if they are not for you, then ...........?
I fail to see why having chosen to leave your family behind you should expect tto be subsidised in accomopdation that single soldiers have to pay for.If it were the case that no married quarters were available and you had to leave yuor family behind I'd have all the sympathy in the world but that's not the case. There are lots of squaddies who would love to have their families with them but can't because no quarters are available, they're the ones I sympathise with. You chose to se seperated but expect the army to fork out for free room and board and pay you GYH allowances.Sorry but you'll get no sympathy from me.
Have you actually read the points he is making?

His main point is about the discrimination not just between married & singlies etc, but the disparity between the services.
I'm sure if everyone paid the same he would not feel so frustrated that he'd have to air his dirty laundry on a public forum.
Just what are these special circumstances in which the RAF and Navy operate and allow them to receive these allowances but the Army do not?
Well thats simple. If your the third nutstrangler for a Nimrod you will spend nearly your whole career in North east Scotland only going away for tours and courses, you will naturally have your family settled nearby. If you are the Ch Eng on a nuclear boat then the same is true but you will have your family in Helensburgh, your next posting will be to another boat moored next to the one you are in.

The blue service are much more static than we are, then live on big bases and if they specialise on the same big base and then they go away for a bit and return to that same big base.

Us, we move all around the world in penny packets at the whim of the manners, and thus why we have chosen to favour accompanied service.

You are right people are missing the point I'm making. It's irrelevant to me whether I pay an accommodation charge or not, although it would be a welcome break if I did not have to, it's that in a supposedly Joint publication there are not joint pay and allowances. My other point was the attitude of the chain of command considering all the great inadeqacies with service housing. I am also frustrated with how out of touch the pwoers that be are with modern life.

Paymaster congratulations on your anniversary and I'm glad that serving accompannied suited you, however my parents have been married for over 35 years now, including some very protracted periods of separation as my father was in the merchant navy, my point is that saying separation leads to divorce and marital infidelity is just naive. I would suggest that those relationships you use as examples were destined to fail regardless.

I also don't agree that wiser and more experienced heads than mine have pondered over this for a long time. I don't think they have thought about the issue at all, as I believe is well illustrated by the Brigadier's comments:

"The policy was due to be reviewed within the proposals of home ownership as part of the Strategic Remuneration Review, shortly to be decided. I anticipate no resolution, so we will return to the charge."

That comment to me shows a lack of commitment to fully engage with the topic and typifies an attitude of laisez faire. It was good enough for me so it will be good enough for everyone to follow.

Paymaster your model of RAF and Naval posting plots is I'm afraid dated also. They are suffering from the same manning problems as us in the Army so the days of being to stay in roughly the same area are long gone apart from a few isolated, niche trades.

Craftsmanx, I'm afraid you have miunderstood my point the most of all. As much as I believe married accommodation is substandard, so is singlies accommodation. I have lost count of the times I have been on block inspections and found the same faults months later despite the QM having reported them to the contractor, just like in the married quarters. Although if you go back to my original post you will see that pads are ill served by houses that are inadequately insulated, causing them to have very large energy bills and where their rental cost has risen by a greater amount than the annual payrise. My point being that service accommodation, whether married or SLA is not fit for purpose.

My post was not a whinge at being told I could not get an allowance, but an expression of my frustration at a system which has lost touch with being soldier centric. As an Officer Cadet at Sandhurst it was drummed into me again and again that the soldier is our most important asset and at all times they should come first, a tennet I have striven to adhere to throughout my carreer to date. However I feel often that I am beating my head against a wall when I find that the system which is supposed to be there to support the serviceman actually creates inertia. The issue of the disparity between the allowances was merely an illustration of a much wider issue.
Paymaster, sorry if I’m missing something here but please help me out;

If you are in the RAF or Navy with an almost fixed address (almost like a civilian job), have your family settled and you use service accommodation, it is free.

If you are in the Army constantly moving around and you use service accommodation you pay.

So RAF and Navy have settled family and free accommodation, Army can have settled family but must pay.

Is anyone else seeing what might be unfair about this?
please forgive my stupidity but surely the clues in the title its a JOINT service publication so we should by rights be under JOINT service rules?
"The policy was due to be reviewed within the proposals of home ownership as part of the Strategic Remuneration Review, shortly to be decided. I anticipate no resolution, so we will return to the charge." might mean any of the following -

1. 'The policy was scheduled to be reviewed, but in fact it wasn't.' or

2. 'I did hear something about the policy being reviewed, but I don't know if it was or not' or

3. 'The policy deserves to be reviewed because it is wrong, but I don't expect a favourable outcome, so we will carry on with the charge.' or

4. 'We will keep on fighting against this unjust charge.'

It really is a masterpiece.

My advice to Evilgoblin is: write a letter to your CO, stating your grievance, and asking for it to be represented to the chain of command. It might also be useful if Mrs Evilgoblin spoke to her AFF Coordinator.
If I remember right in 1988 there was a policy to reduce leave travel warrants from 4 don to 2 once a soldier reached 25yo.
I suppose this was an assumption that at 25 the apron strings ere certainly cut.
What annoys me is the inevitable patronising platitudes whenever someone writes to Soldier Mag. The answer usually just hints "f*** off and die, that's the way it is" rather than accept that there is a problem. And they wonder why people leave.
Apologies for dragging up an old thread however I've just been browsing September's Soldier magazine and there is a very similar letter to mine on page 59. The interesting part is the reply:

"The inconsistency you outline in your letter is one of a small number of allowances/charge policyies which were not harmonised across all three services when JPA was introduced.

Irrespective of their age/length of service, RN/RM and RAF personnel have their single accommodation charges wiaved if they choose to serve unaccompanied and live in.

For the Army the over 37 provision means that this only applies to soldiers who are 37 and over.

My team are currently reviewing this known inconsistency"

My bold looks like a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I would be interested to know why they are starting to change their tune. I would also like to know when the review will be finished and where the result will be published. Incidentally I never heard anything from the BAFF, money well spent... not!


"The inconsistency you outline in your letter is one of a small number of allowances/charge policyies which were not harmonised across all three services when JPA was introduced.

Irrespective of their age/length of service, RN/RM and RAF personnel have their single accommodation charges wiaved if they choose to serve unaccompanied and live in.

For the Army the over 37 provision means that this only applies to soldiers who are 37 and over.

My team are currently reviewing this known inconsistency"

Unfortunately, experience tells me the RAF & RN/RM will lose out by being charged as the army are as this will be a more cost effective solution for the MoD.

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