8000 empty homes but MoD spend £17m on rent!

Zardoz tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Jan 19 01:19:25 GMT 2010

'Scandalous' waste as MoD spends £17 million on rent for service families in 2009 when it has 8,000 empty homes available

By Daily Mail Reporter - 18th January 2010

Almost 8,000 homes for Armed Forces families are empty despite the Ministry of Defence spending £17million a year renting other properties. 

Figures show there are 7,889 unoccupied homes for service families in the UK, including 2,077 that have been empty for more than a year. 

But the MoD has spent more than £88million since 2004 on renting homes where no suitable properties were available, with the bill for 2009 topping £17million. 

This included almost £7,000 a month on a single property in Chelsea, West London. 

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Willie Rennie, who uncovered the figures, said the situation was 'scandalous'. 

In a series of written parliamentary answers, junior Defence minister Kevan Jones said the 7,889 'void' service family accommodation (SFA) properties represented 15.8 per cent of the total 49,828 stock. 

He said reasons for the homes being unavailable included awaiting 'routine moves of service personnel', improvement or modernisation work, demolition or disposal. 

Those which had been empty the longest were 'mainly held awaiting large future redeployments of personnel, pending return to (owners) Annington Homes Limited or awaiting demolition, or where decisions on the future of MoD sites have yet to be made'. 

But Mr Rennie said: 'It is scandalous that the Government is spending millions renting forces homes despite already having thousands of houses standing empty. This is yet more evidence of Labour wasting money even though budgets are tighter than ever.  'With frontline troops still facing shortages of equipment, and their families having to put up with shoddy accommodation, this kind of bungling is unacceptable. 

'The botched privatisation and catastrophic mismanagement of forces properties is the joint legacy of successive Tory and Labour failure at the MoD. 

'Our brave troops and their families deserve a change for the better.' 

In the written answers, Mr Jones highlighted that the number of void SFA properties reached 21 per cent in 2008 and said the MoD sought to sub-let homes where they were empty but needed in the long-term. 

He said: 'While the department is working hard to reduce the number of voids, there will always be a need for a management margin of properties to ensure they are available for service families. 

'Although extremely challenging, the Ministry of Defence is driving hard to reduce the percentage of voids to the target management margin of 10 per cent by 2012.' 

Last year it emerged military accommodation was in such a woeful state that the typical Armed Forces family makes an emergency call for repairs every two months. 

The Ministry of Defence is forced to send out maintenance men to patch up crumbling barracks and married quarters nearly 650 times a day. 

The families of troops  -  including those fighting in Afghanistan  -  have complained about their homes being blighted by overflowing drains, broken windows, leaking roofs and malfunctioning boilers. 

There were 234,000 requests for repairs from the 44,000 service family homes in England and Wales in the 12 months to October last year  -  equal to nearly six callouts per property. 


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