London, May 11 : Many soldiers in the British Army are living in poverty, and some of them are so poor, that they are unable to eat and are forced to rely on emergency food voucher schemes set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), claims a damning and highly sensitive internal report.
According to The Independent, the disturbing findings outlined in the briefing team report written for Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, include an admission that many junior officers are being forced to leave the Army because they simply cannot afford to stay on.
The paper further goes on to say that "pressure from an undermanned army is having a serious impact on retention in infantry battalions", with nearly half of all soldiers unable to take all their annual leave as they try to cover the gaps.
The analysis, described by General Dannatt as "a comprehensive and accurate portrayal of the views and concerns of the Army at large", states: "More and more single-income soldiers in the UK are now close to the UK government's definition of poverty."
It reveals that "a number of soldiers were not eating properly because they had run out of money by the end of the month". Commanders are attempting to tackle the problem through "Hungry Soldier" schemes, under which destitute soldiers are given loans to enable them to eat.
The controversial Pay as You Dine (PAYD) regime, which requires soldiers not on active duty to pay for their meals, has seen commanding officers inundated with complaints from soldiers unhappy at the quality of food that they get and the amount of paperwork involved.
Senior officers warn in the report that "there is a duty of care issue" and add that the "core meal" provided to soldiers on duty "is often not the healthy option".
General Dannatt has vowed to take action.
Despite numerous assurances by the Government to look after wounded soldiers, the report also warns of deep resentment over a cap on the amount of compensation that wounded soldiers receive.
Army chiefs and politicians claimed the document proved the Government was failing to meet its responsibilities towards Britain's servicemen and women, laid out in the Military Covenant.
A spokesman of the Defence Ministry attempted to play down the degree of poverty among soldiers, by saying that "briefing team reports contain the unedited views of individual soldiers, some of which reflect widespread opinion, while others are isolated views. The reports are published widely and the feedback given by lower ranks in the Army helps CGS to stay firmly in touch with life across the Army."