Armed Forces personnel resort to food banks amid cost of living crisis

Military personnel and their families in the United Kingdom have increasingly turned to food banks due to the rising cost of living and high inflation rates, according to Sky News. One such food bank, initially set up by an aviator to support the local community, is now being used by Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. Internal RAF documents and interviews with military sources and charities reveal the extent of the crisis, with some service members having to choose between food or fuel and others unable to afford travel to see their families.

The cost of living crisis has affected all branches of the Armed Forces, with service members from the Royal Navy and the Army also experiencing hardships. A Royal Navy source said the Ministry of Defence is trying to offer more support, such as assistance with childcare costs, but more needs to be done.

One anonymous quote in an RAF morale analysis report stated, “The food bank is popular.” The report also revealed that RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire have the highest use of food banks. The overall findings of the report indicated that cost of living pressures and poor military accommodation were the primary factors negatively impacting morale.

Pay is another factor contributing to the financial strain on military personnel, especially with rising inflation. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body, an independent body, makes annual recommendations to the government on military pay increases. However, the Ministry of Defence has not yet announced this year’s pay settlement, which has been described by one RAF aviator as “an annual gamble.”

Sarah Atherton MP, an Army veteran and member of the Commons Defence Select Committee, called for a 10% pay rise for the military in line with inflation. Military charities such as the RAF Benevolent Fund have stepped in to help, with enquiries for financial assistance from serving personnel more than doubling last year compared to 2021.

In response to questions about the cost of living and food banks, an RAF spokesperson said: “The food bank at RAF Coningsby was not set up by the RAF for its personnel, and the RAF offers a range of support, such as welfare officers who can offer financial advice and access to fuel grants and hardship funds provided by the RAF, and supporting charities and associations.”

The spokesperson also highlighted the comprehensive package of support provided by the defence sector, including the largest pay increase in 20 years, freezing daily food costs, accommodation subsidies, and extending wraparound childcare.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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