You've really got to hand it to the ruling class, whenever their perks or privileges are threatened they will fight to their last breath to defend them.
Despite massive cuts to the armed forces (17,000 personnel leaving) the top brass mounted a fierce rearguard action to stop their allowances for public school education being axed. Apparently they 'pulled out all the stops' to protect the payments, which can be worth up to £17,000 per child, per year. For 2009/2010 the annual cost was £103.5 million.
Formerly known as the Boarding School Allowance, the renamed Continuity of Education Allowance (some Ministry of Defence spin doctor worked over time on that) is currently claimed by 5,500 service personnel on behalf of 7,400 children.
A senior Ministry of Defence source was quoted in the 'Daily Mail', 'The plan was to make huge cuts to this allowance. But the generals put up such a fight that we and the Treasury had to back off.'
In January 2005 the 'Observer' conducted an investigation into the scheme. They found that 346 service children were educated at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School, a state secondary near Reigate in Surrey. However, the overwhelming majority were taught in public schools.
Some schools were heavily reliant on the scheme. At Chilton Cantelo in Yeovil, Somerset, 170 out of 200 places were for service personnel; the Royal Hospital School, Ipswich had 156 children, mainly from navy families and Barnard Castle in County Durham had 155 mainly army children. The cash spent on the scheme has risen from £67 million in 2000/1, to £86 million in 2003/4 and £103.5 million in 2009/10.
As for the 'other ranks' if their family is posted with them overseas their children are expected to attend one of the British military schools dotted across the globe. The Continuity Education Allowance is of course 'open to all ranks', yet the Ministry of Defence refuse to reveal the percentage of officers and 'other ranks' benefiting from the scheme. I wonder why? Still it's good to know that whilst the Poor Bloody Infantry are slogging away in Afghanistan, the children of the top brass are receiving a sound education at one of the top public schools – courtesy of the tax payer.
Repeat after me – 'We're All In It Together'.