Soldiers to get £1,300 'bounty' for recruiting friends

Soldiers are being paid a "bounty" of £1,300 to persuade friends to join the Army because officers believe the conflict in Iraq is making parents turn their children away from the forces.

Members of Infantry and Royal Artillery regiments are being offered the payments from this month to turn round a recruitment shortfall that has left the Army 2,000 soldiers below strength.

But MPs warned that the scheme showed that the Army was over-stretched and warned that high-profile operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were putting recruits off serving.

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son, Gordon, was killed in Basra a month after completing his training, condemned the payments as "blood money".

Mrs Gentle, who has been visiting schools in Glasgow to persuade young people not to sign up, said: "It's disgusting. It's blood money.

"What happens if a young boy gets his friend to sign up to go to Iraq and he gets killed. He will have to live with that for the rest of his life."

Bounties worth £650 were introduced last autumn to combat a "recruiting shortfall" the Ministry of Defence said. The scheme produced 110 recruits, so senior officers decided to rerun the scheme this summer, starting this month, doubling the bounty to £1,300 for each recruit who passes basic training.

Senior officers have said the high-profile casualties of the war in Iraq and the dangers of military operations in Afghanistan have hit recruitment. They warned that the conflicts fuelled fears among parents - known as "gatekeepers" by Army recruiters - about their sons and daughters signing up.

The launch of the bounty scheme comes after British forces suffered their worst month's casualties in Iraq since the war ended, with 11 Britons killed. The Independent on Sunday revealed this week that dozens of women whose sons, husbands and daughters are serving in Iraq have joined a campaign for British forces to be withdrawn.

The Army and the Royal Artillery were well below their targets for new recruits last year. There were 2,110 new infantry recruits last year, well below the target of 2,830. The Artillery attracted 580 recruits, despite a target to sign 800 new soldiers.

Latest figures show the Army remains below strength, despite a steady reduction in the planned size of the forces in recent years. There were 88,450 in the Army's other ranks, nearly 2,000 down on full strength, although the officer corps was up on its planned numbers.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said recruitment was more difficult in times of economic prosperity. He said: "It is particularly helpful for Army recruitment because it takes a soldier to recruit a soldier."

Mark Harper, the shadow Defence Minister said: "This desperate measure illustrates the chronic recruitment problems the Army faces due to the current overstretch of our armed forces.

"With gaps between tours of duty at an all-time low, recruitment and retention rates are bound to be affected by the Government's policy of taking part in an ever-increasing number of operations with an ever-decreasing standing Army."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform