Labour 'betray' our soldiers by cutting their front line allowances 21.10.06 Add your view Thousands of British troops including SAS soldiers have been 'cynically betrayed' after frontline allowances were reduced behind their backs. The cuts have been uncovered by The Mail on Sunday less than a fortnight after Tony Blair and Ministers boasted they were paying tax-free bonuses of Â£2,240 to soldiers in danger zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. But now a change in allowances when troops are separated from their families means those deployed on two six-month tours over two years will have their payments reduced from Â£6,679 before tax to Â£4,338, a loss of Â£2,341. Soldiers accused Ministers of 'giving with one hand and taking more with the other' and warned many would quit. Ministers were thrown into panic last night, when the scandal came to light. Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "This is the first I've heard. This has nothing to do with the tax-free bonus I announced, which I made clear would be paid for by new money from the reserve - there is no question of giving with one hand and taking away with the other. I have ordered an urgent review to ensure that no one loses out." This is a huge embarrassment to Tony Blair. Just 12 days ago he boasted on TV about the new bonuses: "It's important to recognise what our troops are going through today. It is something quite different from what they have faced over the last few decades. The work in places like Afghanistan is vital for the world's security but it's very, very tough." Mr Browne was said to be 'bloody furious' that he had not been told by Ministry of Defence officials about the allowance cuts for troops risking their lives. Insiders insisted it was a 'cock-up, not a conspiracy'. Whitehall sources said Mr Browne would sort out the 'mess' tomorrow morning and promised no soldiers would lose out. The sources claimed 'not very many people' would be affected. But Tory MP Mark Lancaster, a Territorial Army Major who has just returned from braving rocket-propelled grenades in Afghanistan, said: "Our Armed Forces are incandescent with rage about this cut in their separation allowances. Several thousand troops will be affected and that includes elite Special Forces on the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The recent tax bonus announced by the Government was a knee-jerk reaction to public pressure. Now we discover this shambolic mess. Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox added: "This represents either a new low in Labour's political cynicism or unparalleled incompetence by the MoD. It is a cruel betrayal of those brave servicemen and women who are putting their lives on the line for this country. "Blair's claims about valuing our troops have turned out to be nothing more than empty words. We will be raising this in Parliament at the earliest opportunity and demanding that this cut be reversed. This looks like a Gordon Brown defence stealth tax." A sergeant just deployed to fight the Taliban in Helmand province said: "On our return, several of my colleagues are going to vote with their feet. This cycle of giving with one hand and taking with the other is in danger of destroying the Forces." The allowances bungle was uncovered by the Mail on Sunday after MoD military and Civil Service policy planners altered payments to troops on tours of duty. Previously, a soldier serving two six-month tours spread over two years received a long separated service allowance of Â£6,679 before tax. But the newly-named longer separated allowance being introduced by the MoD has resulted in a new bonus system that will reduce payments for the same duties over the same period to Â£4,338.