A report by the government’s spending watchdog has revealed that thousands of armed forces personnel are living in sub-standard accommodation
The National Audit Office said barracks had suffered from “decades of under-investment” by the Ministry of Defence.
Issues with basics such as heating and hot water were among the common complaints
The MoD said it had invested £1.2bn over the last decade in improving military housing.
But the watchdog said there was still a £1.5bn backlog of repairs and the MoD was failing in its commitment to provide high-quality subsidised housing.
As of last year, more than half of the armed forces – nearly 80,000 people – were occupying single living accommodation blocks, either on a full or part-time basis.
Of those, the NAO found more than a third – 36% – were living in “poorer grade” accommodation, while almost 2,400 were in housing considered such bad quality that they were not charged any rent.
Fewer than half – 49% – were satisfied with the overall standard of their accommodation, compared with 58% in 2015, according to the armed forces continuous attitude survey.
Other common issues included a lack of cooking facilities, limited storage space and poor or expensive wifi, the NAO said.
Gareth Davies said on the report:
“Problems with heating and hot water are not conditions that [members of the armed forces] should have to tolerate.
“MoD needs to get this right if it is to retain service personnel in the long term.”
Labour MP Meg Hillier said:
“In the meantime, thousands of members of our armed forces are left living in sub-standard accommodation
These are the people we ask to go out and fight for our country. The least they should be able to expect is a hot shower and a decent roof over their heads.”
An MoD statement said:
“Our armed forces personnel are at the heart of everything we do and it is only right they are provided good quality and affordable living accommodation.
We have invested £1.2bn over the last decade on construction and upgrades of our accommodation and continue to invest in a range of new-build and renovation projects.”