A former chief economic adviser to the Ministry of Defence has described the privileges awarded to military bosses as a “relic of the 1920s class system”.
Neil Davies compared the “lavish” accommodation provided for top brass at a subsidised price to that of the housing for many junior ranks which “resembles council estates”, describing the disparity as “grotesque”.
Mr Davies, who retired last year, said all three services were “top-heavy with senior officers”, suggesting they could be streamlined as many jobs are replicated.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “As the head of the Army, General (Sir Peter) Wall is paid £180,000 and has a flat in Kensington Palace as his official residence, which he says he needs for entertaining.
“This is a lavish lifestyle and it is shared by a number of very senior officers in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
“General Wall rents the flat for far less than its market value. Senior officers say they require official residences in easy reach of Downing Street so they can be summoned to advise the Prime Minister at any time.
“In that case they could be found a council flat in Vauxhall – the point being that other properties could fill the same geographic criteria.”
He described much of the accommodation provided for junior ranks as “abysmal”.
“The comparison between the treatment of those at the top and bottom ends of the Armed Forces is grotesque,” he added.
“What we have is a relic of the 1920s class system in the Armed Forces that is perpetuated through a package of privileges and remuneration to senior officers which they couldn’t maintain in civilian life and is denied even to senior officials in the diplomatic service.
“We would be better off amalgamating the three services at the level of high-ranking commanders.”