Money And Finance

Army's top soldier appeals to personnel to seek help in cost of living crisis

Watch: Army's most senior soldier urges personnel to seek help with the cost of living crisis.

The Army's most senior soldier – the Army Sergeant Major – says the cost of living crisis is one of the main issues he is encountering in his role as 'the voice' of soldiers.

And Warrant Officer Class-One Paul Carney is appealing to soldiers who are struggling financially to speak up, stressing that help is available. 

Armed Forces personnel received a below-inflation 3.75% pay rise, at a time when bills for essentials, like energy, food and fuel, are all surging.

Speaking to Forces News, he said: "I'm really concerned because actually everything costs a lot more.

"Our wages didn't go up in line with inflation, and so it is going to impact our people.

"How does it impact? Do our soldiers go looking for second jobs? Do they have to cut the way that they live, go home, and see their families?

"All this impacts on our people's mental wellbeing," he added.

Alongside the other single service warrant officers from the Navy and the Royal Air Force, WO1 Carney speaks to the head of the Army, Chief of General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders, and advises on what is going on at the ground level.

It is an important relationship, he says, where he can "speak truth to power and ensure that our soldiers and our officers are represented at the highest level".

"We're a people-based organization, and we wouldn't be the Army we are without our people. So they are asking for that information all the time."

Warrant Officer Class-One Paul Carney Cost of Living 241122 CREDIT BFBS
WO1 Carney has served as the Army Sergeant Major, the most senior warrant officer and member of the other ranks in the British Army, since 2021.

In response to some of the current financial strains, WO1 Carney is seeing some soldiers allowed to work from home to reduce their fuel costs.

Other units are facilitating longer weekends once a month, so personnel can travel home for more time but less frequently.

Regimental charities are also working hard to support personnel with rising living costs and financial aid.

WO1 Carney, who has first-hand experience of financial hardship – "post-divorce I got into a lot of debt and my pride got in the way" – says it was not until he reached out for help that change happened.

He is calling for all soldiers who are struggling to seek support.

"I'd say everyone ditches their pride. The chain of command takes the time to listen to their people and help them through these issues.

"Because if you hide it and keep it tucked away, it just grows and gets bigger."