Liberal Democrats have today announced a package of measures aimed at tackling recruitment and retention challenges across the Armed Forces.
These measures include cash incentives for new STEM graduates who join up, and a new "careers for heroes" scheme to pay for the full cost of further and higher education for Armed Forces personnel who have served for twelve or more years.
These ambitious policies have been announced on the same day that the Liberal Democrats have committed to the NATO target of 2% defence spending.
Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron said:
"Liberal Democrats believe in a strong, credible UK Armed Forces which is properly equipped and trained for the challenges and threats we face in the 21st century.
"This relies on proper investment in the men and women who serve our country, people who have been shamefully overlooked by the Conservative government for too many years. A Conservative party who would rather buy big ticket platforms than invest in the people needed to run them.
"A recent independent report was a damning indictment of armed forces recruitment and retention, with some units facing 14% shortfalls in manpower.
"That's why the Liberal Democrat manifesto will set out a bold set of measures to support personnel and address the critical skills shortfalls. We will incentivise STEM graduates to join the Armed Forces with a £10,000 golden handshake for those who sign up. Alongside this, we will fund further and higher education for those who leave the services with a 'Careers for Heroes' scheme.
"Our Army, Navy and Airforce deserve the best and the brightest serving in them, and we must not stand by as those who have served face disadvantages.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party that can challenge Theresa May and stand up for the rights of those brave men and women who serve."
- The STEM scheme will be a cash incentive of £10,000 for those who commit to serving for five or more years, aimed at addressing capability shortfalls outlined in the 2017 Armed Forces Pay Review, which can be read here.
- The 'careers for heroes' scheme will offer full funding of higher or further education, at undergraduate level, up to a value of £9,000 per annum.