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Armed Forces Accommodation

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what his Department's disposal targets are for married quarters estate stock in each of the next five years; [112886](2) what his Department's targets are for reducing the void rate levels in the married quarters estate; and if he will make a statement; [112888](3) how many of his Department's married quarters were empty at 31 March 2003. [112890]

8,161 Service family properties in Great Britain were empty at 31 March 2003. The relevant targets set for the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) are expressed not in terms of numbers of houses for disposal but as the progressive reduction of void rates in order to achieve, by 2005, a management margin of 10 per cent. (The management margin is the proportion of working stock vacant).Some 12,000 properties have been passed by DHE for disposal since January 2000. Further disposals will be set in hand this year, but the Services have requested DHE hold back from disposal about another 2,000 vacant properties which may or may not be needed in future, depending on the resolution of Service deployment uncertainties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new build units in the married quarters estate are planned by his Department in each of the next three years; and how many houses this will replace from the existing married quarters estate. [112887]

The numbers of new build service family houses planned in Great Britain for the next three years, through both capital projects and Private Finance Initiative are as follows:

It is difficult to specify how many existing family houses these new builds will replace. New build is often at locations where the requirements for service housing are new or increasing, and therefore the new houses are not intended as replacements, but they may indirectly replace housing at other locations where requirements are declining.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department's upgrade programme for the married quarters estate will be completed by 2005; how many units are part of this upgrade programme; how many units have been upgraded so far; and if he will make a statement. [112889]

Good progress has been made with the upgrade programme for Service family housing in mainland United Kingdom. Since the establishment of the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) in 1995, the number of properties at Standard 1 For Condition has increased from only about 1,000 to about 21,000. About half the families housed by DHE are now in Standard 1 properties and some 90 per cent. in Standards 1 or 2. The upgrade programme will not be completed by 2005, but it will continue to progress towards the services' long-term requirement for family housing, currently estimated at around 41,000 properties. Demanding targets will be set for DHE each year depending on funds available.