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Service Accommodation

Volume 735: debated on Monday 26 June 2023

The Ministry of Defence fully recognises the importance of safe, good-quality and well-maintained homes. In the last seven years, the MOD has invested more than £936 million in service family accommodation. That includes £185 million last year on modernising homes, tackling damp and mould and improving thermal efficiency. Currently, 97% of MOD SFA meet or exceed the Government’s decent homes standard. Only those properties are allocated to service families. We strive to do better but, for context, the figure for social housing is 91%.

When he has been around various sites, I am sure the Minister will have noticed the substandard quality of accommodation, and indeed squalor in certain cases. He will also know that some 800 armed forces families are living in potentially unsafe homes that have not yet had gas safety checks. Will he confirm what action he and his Government are taking to make those homes safe?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. On gas and electric safety, my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement was made aware of the issue on 2 May and he worked exceptionally quickly to remedy it. Currently, there are some 555 gas safety certificates outstanding. That number is plummeting dramatically, and almost all of them will be cleared by the end of June, which is a measure of some success.

If a private or a professional landlord did not properly complete these safety checks, they would be sued. It is completely unacceptable that we put armed forces personnel and their loved ones at risk for months because the Future Defence Infrastructure Services contract that is meant to do that is completely broken. If the head of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, who is meant to oversee this, is completely out of his depth, which some of us believe he is, after this, should he not consider his position?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his comments. The important thing is that when my hon. Friend the Minister of State got to know about this, he acted immediately to put the matter right. I am not really interested in getting people’s scalps; I am interested in putting the matter right, and that is exactly what is happening.