Army families ‘forced to rely on charity food handouts’ because of low wages
Army families are being forced to rely on charity food handouts because they cannot make ends meet on the wages paid to low-ranking soldiers, it has been reported.
The problem is exacerbated when regiments are sent overseas on tour as spouses are hit with unexpected extra expenses such as childcare and bigger phone bills.
Foodbank, based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, has handed out food parcels to 245 struggling military families in three years.
The charity’s network manager, Jeremy Ravn, told The Sun newspaper that wives and families resorted to the parcels when they were hit by unexpected expenses.
“There is always the cost of extra child care and travel and bigger phone bills,” he said. “But because the lower ranks are not paid well, often just a large bill or a hiccup in the pay system is enough to push them over the edge.
“Speaking as an ex-soldier, it is very distressing to see forces people in this state. It is heartbreaking when you see them come in. But it’s nice to be able to help them immediately.”
Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the news was an “outrage”.
“For a government that can find billions for bank bailouts, service families going hungry is a betrayal of Britain’s finest,” he told The Sun.
“This would have been a scandal in the 19th century. It’s an outrage in the 21st century. What does it say about our country?”
Julie McCarthy, chairwoman of the Army Families Federation, agreed that the need for handouts was “beyond belief”.
“It’s not because they are over-spending,” she said. “It’s because they have to live on such tight budgets to survive. The regiments do what they can, but their welfare officers are often overwhelmed dealing with fatalities and the wounded.
“When I look at what we ask our soldiers to do, it makes me very angry. They surely have enough to worry about in Afghanistan without wondering if their families are able to eat.”
An Army spokeswoman said: “For a variety of reasons, a number of personnel may find themselves in a situation where they need help managing their household budgets.
“The chain of command works closely with individual personnel to assist them. We also work closely with charities and Armed Forces Families Federations, which are sometimes approached by families for assistance, in order to ensure that help is co-ordinated and longer term solutions can be found.”
Source: London Telegraph