The head of the Army has warned that years of Government under-funding and overstretch have left troops feeling “devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue”, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, reveals in a top-level report that the present level of operations is “unsustainable”, the Army is “under-manned” and increasing numbers of troops are “disillusioned” with service life.
Gen Dannatt states that the “military covenant is clearly out of kilter”, and the chain of command needs to improve standards of pay, accommodation and medical care.
“We must strive to give individuals and units ample recuperation time between operations, but I do not underestimate how difficult this will be to achieve whilst under-manned and with less robust establishments than I would like.”
Mounting fears over further heavy losses in the financial sector pushed Wall Street down for a third day after three leading US banks revealed further evidence of the damage being caused by the credit crisis.
Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank, and JP Morgan Chase, the third largest, admitted that they too could be hit by the worsening crisis. The news came as Wachovia, the fifth largest bank, said it faced a $1.7bn (£812m) fourth-quarter hit.
The Dow Jones slid 247 points at one stage, a fall of nearly 650 points over three days, as the flood of bad news cemented the view that the final three months of year will throw up even more losses.
JP Morgan, which revealed it had $40.6bn of leveraged loans and unfunded commitments on its balance sheet at the end of September, said it faces “further markdowns … if market conditions worsen for this asset class.”
Britain’s housing market will become a direct casualty of the credit crunch with the pain felt unevenly across the regions, credit information firm Experian says.
Experian predicted house prices over the next two years would record the lowest annual increases since the mid-1990s, while repossessions would reach 15-year highs.
The report comes two days after Bovis Homes, Britain’s fifth biggest housebuilder, warned that turmoil in financial markets was undermining confidence among house buyers.
Irresponsible lenders are pushing people into debt, but regulators are “asleep on the job”, a charity warns.
Citizens Advice says its staff dealt with a record 1.7 million debt problems during the last 12 months, an increase of 20% on the previous year.
The charity says it is working hard to help more people deal with their financial problems.
But it wants the financial services industry to do more to tackle irresponsible lending.
The director of public policy at Citizens Advice, Teresa Perchard, said: “Time and time again, we come across people in desperate straits who need not be there if the firm who lent them money had acted responsibly on day one.
A storm in the North Sea helped to push the oil price closer to $100 a barrel today, as the average price of a litre of petrol broke through £1 for the first time in the UK.
A barrel of US light crude oil hit a new all-time high of $98.62 this morning, having reached $97.07 in fevered trading yesterday. Brent crude also rose again, hitting a new high of $95.19.
The rise was partly spurred by the declining dollar, which hit a new 26-year low of $2.1053 against the pound in morning trading in London.
The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has warned that the US sub-prime mortgages crisis poses more risks for the UK’s financial system.
He also revealed that it was Chancellor Alistair Darling who decided not to support a Northern Rock takeover bid.
Mr King told the BBC he had advised the chancellor that governments should not provide financial help to one company so that it could take over another.
Insolvency experts are warning that the numbers of consumers declaring bankruptcy is set to soar next year, despite the release of figures revealing a fall.
Data from the Insolvency Service showed the number of people becoming insolvent fell by 5 per cent between July and September. Bankruptcies were up 2.2 per cent to 15,833, but there was a drop in Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), which fell to 10,239 – down 14.3 per cent compared with last year.