The Government continue to invest significant sums to improve the quality of UK service family accommodation, with £337 million invested over financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22 combined, and £163 million in 2022-23. The forecast for this financial year is £312 million.
Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has repeatedly said that she has “deep concerns” about the “continued failures” to improve service accommodation for armed forces recruits over the past seven years. Will the Minister explain why those concerns from neutral Ofsted inspector Amanda Spielman have fallen on deaf ears, and why those improvements are yet to be made?
This is an extremely important subject, and we care immensely about improving our estate. Such concerns do not fall on deaf ears. If that were the case we would not have put on the table a further £400 million for SFA in the defence Command Paper refresh. Precisely because of that additional funding, this year our spend will be almost double that of last year.
The Prime Minister said he was going to lead by example, and that when it came to the military base at Catterick, he was going to ensure that illegal migrants were housed there. We now understand that the generals have said they do not want a bunch of Afghans and Iraqis next to their squaddies, so nothing is happening with regard to illegal migrants being put there, although the Ministry of Defence is so determined that its soldiers should not be placed near migrants that it is moving them out of RAF Scampton. When will illegal migrants be placed in Catterick, as promised by the Prime Minister? I want a date and I want it now.
I visited Catterick on Friday and I discussed precisely that matter with senior members of the armed forces based at Catterick. The characterisation that my right hon. Friend uses is not correct. These matters are being considered objectively and carefully, but that work is ongoing.