Ministry of Defence officials have been handed nearly £40 million in bonuses as the armed forces face drastic cutbacks.
Civilian staff were awarded £39.7 million in performance-related pay this financial year, down from £44.2 million in 2009-10.
The figures, disclosed to the Daily Mail in response to a Freedom of Information request, showed senior officials shared £2.7 million, averaging £8,000 each.
The payouts came as the coalition made deep cuts to the military budget as part of efforts to tackle the deficit, downgrading major projects and laying off thousands of service personnel.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, told the newspaper: “Our armed forces get no bonuses whatsoever when they go away to fight. It makes me wonder if we’ve got our priorities right.
“Civil servants don’t face bombs and bullets. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are the ones who should be receiving these payments, not the bureaucrats.”
But an MoD spokesman said: “These are not bonuses, but a proportion of overall salary which is linked to performance. These awards are non-pensionable and have to be earned each year.
“In 2009-10 the average award, which is taxable, was £677. More than half of all MoD civil servants earn less than £20,000 a year.”