The Ministry of Defence has fallen “woefully short” with its plan to meet the housing needs of troops, a new report has claimed.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has told the Government it runs the risk of driving people away from the armed forces unless a “coherent and detailed” housing strategy is developed.
The think tank’s paper, entitled The Home Front: The Future Accommodation Model For The UK Armed Forces, calls on the MoD to make significant changes to housing provision if it is to stay “affordable and relevant”.
The paper suggests that the armed forces “should give increased priority to families’ accommodation” and recognise that it is a significant element in the overall employment offer.
While RUSI acknowledges that the MoD has recognised the need to reform through its Future Accommodation Model (FAM), the paper argues that the plans for this initiative are “woefully short on detail and methods of delivery, frustrating representatives of service families and other stakeholders”.
The authors underline that “there is significant unease that the current FAM ambition will drive people, potentially, to leave the military rather than properly aiding retention”.
Moreover, the report states that the FAM does not adequately address the reality that the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have differing needs and preferences for families’ living accommodation.
RUSI also points to the sell off of more than 55,000 service family homes to Annington Property Limited in 1996 as “significant”.
The MoD was criticised in January after the National Audit Office (NAO) found the ministry was up to £4.2 billion worse off for the sale.
The MoD has since rented them back on 200-year underleases, and is paying more than £178 million a year for the remaining 39,000 properties.
RUSI’s report states that the sale has brought year-on-year financial obligations to the ministry that it is “struggling to manage effectively and to afford”.
One senior official told the authors: “The accommodation deal is broken and a bad fit for us. It has to be reformed and the FAM is our stab at doing just that.”
An MOD spokeswoman said: “We are committed to providing our troops with accommodation that meets their needs and is good value. In the last three years, we have invested over £500m in housing and pledged a further £1.8bn.”