The MoD has “neglected” service personnel accommodation despite a clear link to operational capability & personnel retention, according to the Public Accounts Committee.

In its report published today the Public Accounts Committee warns that the Ministry of Defence “neglect” of the accommodation for more than half of the Armed Forces is a risk to retention of service personnel and ultimately “directly undermines operational capability”. In 2020 29% of service personnel living in the Single Living Accommodation (SLA) said accommodation was a factor increasing their intention to leave.

Read the report summary here.

The committee say the MoD “has taken the goodwill of service personnel for granted and has been complacent in how it has managed SLA”.

The report adds that there is no minimum standard for SLA, unlike private or social housing or MoD’s own Service Family Accommodation.

“An IT system set up to manage the maintenance of SLA eight years ago is still not functioning. A ‘fix on fail’ policy has led to a £1.5 billion maintenance and repairs backlog across all accommodation, including SLA. Much of the estate is old and 36% of personnel live in the lowest-grade accommodation, with 3% of these not even required to pay rent because their housing is so poor. “

Commands have plans to invest £1.5 billion to upgrade accommodation over the next 10 years and plan to use some of the additional £16.5 billion in defence funding announced in November 2020 for this. However, this extra funding “seems to have already been spent more than once before it had even arrived”, raising questions about how much investment SLA will actually receive.

The report advises that a change in management is needed if the Department is to meet the reasonable expectations of service personnel and be fit for the 21st century.

You can read the conclusions and recommendations here.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“Leaving over one third of our serving Armed Forces in the “poorest” standard of accommodation sends an absolutely terrible signal about the value we place on their work defending the UK and its interests around the globe. Providing decent accommodation is part of a promise the MoD makes to our Armed Forces in recognition of their service, a promise which is being roundly broken.

More airy promises to allot some of the new £16.5 defence funding that seems to have been spent several times over before its even arrived with the Department absolutely will not do – our serving personnel’s needs must not be relegated to the back of the queue yet again. They deserve better than this and full, proper delivery of the UK’s defence capabilities demands it.”

Read the full report, ‘Improving single living accommodation for service personnel’, here.

 

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LordSpam
LordSpam
2 months ago

This does not surprise me at all. The accommodation for reservists is even worse paint peeling off the walls, carpet falling apart, half the toilets and showers don’t work. That’s the good accommodation, I know some units only have porta cabins with bunk beds and then have to walk across to the gym for toilets or showers.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  LordSpam

But to be fair reservists will only be that accom from a few days to a fortnight. The main concern is the people that live in that sub standard crap full time. Although the standards should be higher across the ball.

Richard Wakefield
Richard Wakefield
2 months ago

It can’t be that hard to get the basics right, it’s time to start bringing disciplinary action against those that have failed. Why as a taxpayer should I accept the waste and neglect any longer.

DRS
DRS
2 months ago

There is a simple solution. The project manager for the housing has to live on site as part of their salary. They will soon fix it to standard or above. Or better still give it back to people in the army who used to manage it as they would live there – they would soon fix it too.

Richard Wakefield
Richard Wakefield
2 months ago
Reply to  DRS

Totally agree can someone in Government read this and make it happen rather than sit on it for another decade!

Rogbob
Rogbob
2 months ago
Reply to  DRS

That’s the issue with most of the on base “life support” issues from lack of heating/hot water, crapness generally of buildings and of course, food – the decision makers all live in their own homes, or married quarters and rarely if ever actually have to endure it. Given the “future accomodation model” is hell bent on getting people out of service accomodation and into their own – it doesnt take a conspiracy theorist to believe there is zero intent at the decision making level to actually improve things as that would be counter to the bigger plan. Plus of course,… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

Trouble is that once you get the outsourcers in any deep maintenance costs so much that it is quicker easier and cheaper to knock down and rebuild. The only problem with that is that build costs in the UK are about double what they should be if we had competently trained people actually building things. That is my day job now. So the whole thing is in a self destructive spiral. That being said, spending £1.5Bn actually sounds quite cheap compared to the costs of failing to retain people who will probably just be getting into their stride. There is… Read more »

Expat
Expat
2 months ago

UK is starting to build modular home like Sweden has done for years. This means costs should come down considerably as its repetitive manufacturing on a production line. The other big cost is land but the mod has land.

Billythefish
Billythefish
2 months ago

However, this extra funding “seems to have already been spent more than once before it had even arrived”

If it was not so serious it would be hilarious. Corruption mostly, also a lot of incompetence. Spooning out contracts under ridiculous terms and conditions to ”serco” and ”carrilion” and all the other semi quango organisations filled with ex public servants and MPs.

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago

Sounds about right. The Forces seem to struggle with the idea of valuing their people. The same people that they pretend are their greatest asset.

BobA
BobA
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

The forces don’t own the infrastructure though; DIO does. When I was serving, we even resorted to using regimental (ie non-public) money to provide some improvements to the accommodation (basic privacy curtains, improved storage lockers etc) because public funds weren’t coming through.

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  BobA

The Forces did own it all though and sold off these functions to outside agencies and companies like Carillion. The rights and wrongs of that are a whole different debate but surely you’d agree that the contracts should be written to maintain certain standards, regiments or whatever shouldn’t be using the piss up money for curtains.

Sorry mate, for me the buck stops with the MOD.

BobA
BobA
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

That’s rather my point; the MOD isn’t the Forces, it’s the department of state under which they reside and are funded. But that function (accommodation) is held by DIO – which is a separate legal entity. So you can’t blame the ‘Forces’ for the state of the accommodation; you could maybe blame them for not holding DIO to account and in its turn DIO not holding contractors to account. The real villains (in my eyes) are Crown Commercial – they tried to eek out so much ‘value’ from the contracts, they made it impossible for firms to make profit unless… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  BobA

Fair point, they’re all different arms of government spending. That’s not much comfort when you’re living in substandard accommodation and its difficult to get things sorted. I’m not particularly interested in these organisations sloping shoulders and saying “Its not my fault, it’s that lot over there”. The end result is that the guys and girls are often in crap accom, they not going to be less likely to put their notice in because its DIO instead the Forces that are putting a crap roof over their head’s. The article headline is “MoD neglected service personnel housing” by the way, not… Read more »

MarkF
MarkF
2 months ago

No surprises here. All went to rat, when they centralised the R&M contracts with a few big companies. They they seem to do is sub/sub/sub contracts down to local companies. This increase the time and cost of doing the works. They would be better employing a CS in each garrison and allow them to manage things on a more local level.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago
Reply to  MarkF

CS means?

MarkF
MarkF
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham

Civil Servant

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago

My god this is an understatement. What nobody is looking closer at though is battalion level management. They’re the custodians of the barracks.
Not too far back I’d do the old BOS duties and report damages because the Razzman wanted to keep me busy. Told to fuck off by the Q man. Cheers.
Does any body know if there is truth in QM receiving an award for saving the Crown money (as in not spending funds on repairs, refits etc)?

Had a RAF mrs for a bit and her digs were spot on.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago
Reply to  Reaper

RAF look after their people much better than the Army.

Dave B
Dave B
2 months ago

The time has come for those who wish to and are able, to “live out” in rented accommodation paid for through some system either directly or indirectly by the MOD. As a consequence not so much estate is required, so that the remaining SLA on bases for those who can’t or don’t want to live out can be upgraded to a standard that is expected.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave B

Quite a few single soldiers do live out of barracks in rented accommodation, particularly those who want to live with their girlfriend. What do you mean when you say that the accommodation should be paid for by the MoD?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago

I guess I was lucky. From 2008 onwards I had modern en suite single living accommodation at RNAS Yeovilton. RAF Cottesmore accommodation was old, but still had single rooms and comfortable. (Great bop night on Thursdays 🍻) Faslane was a very good standard, as was Culdrose. Portsmouth also had a complete revamp at HMS Nelson. A few night overs at Brize Norton and Coningsby also had good digs. I have only stayed over at one Army camp, Bovington I think, which was pretty naff, but that was back in 2004, and it was only the transit block.👍

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Moved around the blocks in Cottesmore a few times…. lets just say the standard of the rooms depended a lot on which block you where in. My first room the Windows where falling off the hinges. 😑

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Hi mate. I can’t remember the name of the block I was in now, but it was right at the back near the parameter fence, spitting distance from the gym. Loved my time at Cottesmore. Especially Thursday nights at the bowl, and the Vertigo club 😄🍻

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Both those had been closed by the time I got there O_O the only thing to do was hope the taxi company hadn’t packed it in early and go out to Oakham.
Yeah I know the block you mean XD I was in one of the tiny downstairs rooms by the back door that led to the smoking area/fence. Hated it for a number of reasons, but having the smokers outside my window that didn’t close properly (as a non smoker) certainly didn’t make me happier XD

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I bet, never good to be close to the tabbing Bay. Exton block, that’s the one I was in, remembered it now. My room was pretty good, squeezed a double bed in. Used to enjoy the Sun Inn down the road in Cottesmore village. I did my resettlement at Cottesmore just before I left, it was like a ghost town then. Had some really fun times I my first couple of years.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Army transit blocks are generally notoriously bad. Seems that todays soldiers are not putting up with dated egular accommodation and are leaving. Even asylum seekers don’t seem to like our Victorian barracks that have not been modernised in decades.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham

Hi Graham. And I don’t blame them. Comfortable accommodation does make a big difference. And overall the general standard of living across the country is higher now than it was years ago. In my early years in the Navy I stayed in some pretty run down accommodation. But overall I was pretty lucky, and had some good digs.

farouk
farouk
2 months ago

“The MoD has “neglected” service personnel accommodation despite a clear link to operational capability & personnel retention, according to the Public Accounts Committee.”

My first posting was Kitchener Bks Chatham, on a Thursday evening we would paint the sinks white so as to cover up the rust spots for the OCs room inspection the next day.

Jan van der Werk
Jan van der Werk
2 months ago

I nearly had a heart attack when joining in Britain. Nissan Huts. That was the eighties. In SA we had brilliant accommodation at the depot, even if a bit dated. The field was another thing of course. In TA service into the nineties it was just as bad. Stayed on an RAF base once and “H” Blocks from WW2 were luxury compared to army accomodation.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago

I certainly remember Nissan huts at STANTA training camp as a cadet in the 70s, equipped with a single central ineffective coke boiler and that awful dash to the distant ablutions block.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

You should have lived in Monty lines in Aldershot…..bloody hell.

Connor
Connor
2 months ago

On my camp we have old and new blocks running side by side, belonging to different Regiments and Batterys. The result is long serving full screws getting stuck with absolutely inadequate accomodation from the 70s with shared everything – whilst you have brand new soldiers rocking up fresh from training – landing straight into what can only be described as a literal palace by comparison. It causes a lot of contention and rightly so. Not to mention the housing situation. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this but there are two types of Army. Living in the block… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Connor
Mark F
Mark F
2 months ago

So called project SLAM came about as I was leaving in 2007 Brize was going full tilt. The and I still call the married quarters where an absolute sham, that was all ranks not just the erks. But as usual the politicians promise so much when in office.