UK

Military housing still 'not good enough' despite investment

Keogh Barracks on the Surrey/Hampshire border Image copyright Getty Images

Too many military personnel live in poor quality housing - despite the Ministry of Defence spending £135m on refurbishments, a watchdog has said.

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report warned that without improvements the military risked undermining morale and losing highly skilled individuals.

It said satisfaction "only rose slightly", despite the MoD refurbishing around 3,800 homes.

The MoD said providing good quality housing was a "top priority".

The department provides subsidised housing to military personnel and their families.

PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said: "Too many military service personnel find themselves in living quarters where the standard is simply not good enough."

Poor quality accommodation "puts a strain on working and family life", the Labour MP added.

"The nation cannot afford to lose experienced and skilled personnel simply because their homes are not up to standard," she said.

Housing satisfaction increased from 62% to 64% in the past year, the report by Westminster's public spending watchdog said.

The MoD told the committee it would set the "demanding target" of raising that to 68% this year.

The department said it was investing more than £80m a year to improve the quality of its homes, while building more than 1,500 new properties for service families.

Modernisation

The PAC also criticised the military for being "slow" to react to changing social attitudes.

Only those who are married or in a civil partnership are "entitled to accommodation", while those in long-term relationships only remain "eligible", the committee said.

The MoD said it was "modernising" the way it provided housing, introducing new measures to support co-habitation and a pilot scheme offering privately rented homes alongside existing options.

Under the scheme, MoD housing will no longer be allocated based on the rank of the personnel but instead on the size of the family.

Ms Hillier urged the MoD to "urgently" reduce the number of empty properties it holds, while thousands of people across the country remain on waiting lists.

The watchdog also called for military bosses to "negotiate hard" for taxpayers when negotiating future rent levels with the private housing provider it sold its estate to in 1996.

The original sale was criticised by the PAC for having "badly let down" taxpayers.

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