Skip to main content

Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 2: Accommodation report published

26 June 2012

The MoD is sending the wrong signals to Forces families about the value it places on providing good accommodation, says the Defence Committee in its report, published today, on Forces Accommodation. Service personnel see the provision of proper housing as fundamental to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Evidence given to the Committee showed that Armed Forces personnel and their families valued accommodation very highly and saw it as part of their terms and conditions of employment and as promoting unit cohesion and support for families when personnel were deployed on operations. The provision of accommodation was particularly important for those who were required to be mobile; it was the only option allowing families to live together. It is also clear that for many personnel, Service Families Accommodation is the only affordable housing solution.

Indeed, the Families Federation said in evidence, that inquiries and complaints about accommodation account for more than half of the regular communications they receive.

So when the Committee considered the MoD’s decision to halt upgrade work on accommodation for the next three years, they saw it as damaging to the Covenant.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says

"This sent out the wrong signal to Armed Forces personnel about the importance the Government attached to the Armed Forces Covenant. We recommend that the MoD look again urgently at the stoppage, which, in any case, could well be a false economy."

The Chair went on to say

"It is unacceptable that over 60 per cent of Single Living Accommodation is in a condition not deemed satisfactory by the MoD and that the MoD cannot estimate how long it will take to remedy that situation."

In early 2012, the MoD began work on the New Employment Model, looking at how Armed Forces personnel are employed. One element of this is the Future Accommodation Project looking at how accommodation will be provided to Armed Forces personnel and their families. The Committee recommends that this project should be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of the three individual Services by allowing sufficient variation to meet their differing needs. They should also take account of the needs of personnel at different stages in their lives and careers.

The three Services have differing needs from accommodation. The Army is, and is likely to remain, extremely mobile. The RAF is less so and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will soon reduce to just three substantial bases.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says

"Given the fragility of morale we recommend that the MoD should use a more effective communications strategy to keep Service families in the picture. This strategy should be in place and activated as soon as the Government announces the results of the Future Accommodation Project to Parliament."