Figures estimate there are at least 13,000 hard-up heroes sleeping on the street while one-fifth of the Ministry of Defence stock of Service Family Accommodation is not being used
By Isobel Dickinson 21:13, 1 FEB 2020 Updated 22:27, 1 FEB 2020
The Ministry of Defence has 10,000 homes lying empty as veterans sleep on the street.
Figures out this week show one-fifth of the MoD’s stock of Service Family Accommodation is not being used. Promoted Story
Billy MacLeod of charity Veterans In Action said it was “crazy” that thousands of houses were being left empty while former servicemen struggled for shelter.
He said: “To have this number of homes which are going to rack and ruin and not to be putting homeless veterans in them is crazy.”
The MoD said last year it believes 4% of Britain’s estimated 320,000 homeless are ex-military. But charities say the number could be much higher.
Soldiers Off The Streets, who specialise in helping homeless former servicemen, said the youngest veteran they dealt with was just 18 and the oldest was 97.
Mr MacLeod added: “There was one estate I heard of recently which had more than 50 SFA houses which hadn’t been occupied for two or three years. They were completely run down and had been vandalised. It’s such a shame.
“These should be used to help former servicemen get back on their feet.”
Troops from every conflict since the Falklands in 1982 through to recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make up a significant number of Britain’s homeless.
The defence minister Baroness Goldie said this week the MoD has 8,951 SFA properties vacant in England – that’s 20% of its stock.
In addition, there are 850 properties not being used in Scotland, meaning a quarter are empty.
And 274 vacant properties in Wales make another one in four which are unoccupied.
Baroness Goldie said: “These figures represent a snapshot in time as the occupancy rate varies on a daily basis as Service families move in and out.”
The MoD sold most of its 50,000 homes to private firm Annington in 1996.
It means the department is paying for empty properties under the deal, dubbed “disastrous” by MPs.