Army reservists are to get military pensions and healthcare benefits in a bid to drive up numbers, Defence Secretary Philip Hammon announced to MPs today. The new benefits are designed to drive up numbers from 20,000 to 30,000 by 2018 and also include the following:
Smaller firms that employ part-time soldiers will receive an extra £500 per month when they are away on deployment.
Companies that discriminate against staff who wish to sign up as a reservist will be more open to action at employment tribunals.
Ministers have not ruled out legislating to ensure it is not a disadvantage when applying for jobs.
General Sir Peter Wall, head of the British Army, has welcomed the reforms to the Territorial Army and attempted to play down fears over the impact they could have on businesses.
Former head of the Irish Guards Colonel Ben Farrell told ITV's Daybreak that although the idea of boosting the number of reservists to 30,000 was "on the face of it a good idea", he was concerned by the "practicalities" of the proposal.
Chief of the General Staff Gen Wall said the Army had "very positive" talks with the Confederation of British Industry and small businesses over the potential impact they could face if an employee gets deployed.
Gen Wall added that the Army would look at "ex-regulars" and people inspired by today's reforms to help make-up the extra 10,000 reservists they aim to have before 2018.
Former head of the Irish Guards Colonel Ben Farrell told ITV's Daybreak that although the government's plan to boost the Territorial Army to 30,000 was "on the face of it a good idea", he was concerned by the "practicalities" of the proposal.
Colonel Farrell said he thought increasing the number of reservists from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2018 would be difficult to achieve and feared that businesses could be impacted if employees were called up on duty.
He added that he was less concerned over the Territorial Army's input on operations, pointing out that they had previously "done brilliantly overseas" and would be subjected to training before being deployed.
Some Army reservists will become specialists in areas such as cyber security, chemical and biological warfare and intelligence under plans to be outlined today, according to the Independent.
The newspaper reports that reservists will be able to take "enhanced training programmes" in these emerging areas as "an incentive to join and stay in the force".
It also reports that military planner believe that people who work in other professions - particularly in computing, sciences and languages - may already have skills that would be of use in these cutting-edge fields.