Sir Mike Penning welcomes tax exemption that removes an anomaly that penalises armed forces living off a military base

18th December 2017

Sir Mike Penning welcomes measures in the Finance (No2) Bill that introduce an income tax exemption for accommodation payments made to members of the armed forces which will benefit members of the forces who live off a military base.

The people who serve in our armed forces today—I have some experience of this—are looking for a different model and a different way of life for their families to grow up in. In the old days, they would have been in the garrisons or the ports. My constituency is further from the sea than anywhere else in the country, yet I have Royal Marines bringing their families up in the town. They are penalised for doing that because of the way the scheme works now. The new scheme will help them and they tell me that they are looking forward to it.

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for making that point. His constituency is very similar to mine in that respect. I welcome this measure and I anticipate that my constituents will as well.

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The hon. Gentleman—my friend—and I agree on most things, but no one is going to force people into doing this. We must wait for the model to come forward, and I would not vote for something where we forced people into such a scheme, as the Opposition Front Bench claimed. But my friend is wrong to say we will have to address this just around the localities: we will have to do that, but these people often want to find accommodation in their own home towns, so they can be around their family structure. That is the way the armed forces are now, rather than just having the garrisons, and the super-garrisons, which are coming.

I do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman, but unless we do some work on where we are going to house these people and families, we will be throwing them out to the market. That is why the last Labour Government introduced the early support for members of the armed forces who wish to purchase their own property, a move that was cancelled in the first Budget in 2011. There is a mixture here: some members of the armed forces want to buy, while others will want to rent as they move around.

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