Hundreds of Royal Navy sailors face having up to four day’s pay per month docked after having been mistakenly overpaid to the tune of £1.2 million by the Ministry of Defence.
According to the Daily Mirror, the junior ratings were told in a letter received yesterday that they would be required to pay back the money until it was all recovered.
One serviceman was informed that he would have to return as much as £17,000, while another had been overpaid by only £9.
A third said: “As if people in the Armed Forces haven’t got enough to worry about…There is a lot of confusion and worry that, at a time of recession, we will have less in our pay packet through no fault of our own.”
A lot of people had failed to notice the overpayment because “they were busy” and were now facing being burdened with more debt, which is “especially bad if they are being made redundant”, he added.
The MoD confirmed that 423 members and former members of the Navy had been found to be affected over several years following a lengthy investigation into ratings on the wrong pay grade.
Serving personnel have now had their salaries adjusted, while those who have recently been made redundant or are leaving voluntarily will have to repay the money in instalments, the BBC said.
In line with its own policy and that of the Treasury, the MoD has a duty to recover the overpayment of public funds.
It said in a statement: “We have apologised to all of those affected and, in accordance with standard government practice, arrangements are in place for repayment of monies wrongfully received. Where repayment of monies is appropriate, procedures are in place to prevent any hardship to individuals.”