A quarter of service personnel in the greater Bristol area are living in the lowest grade of service accommodation, shocking figures have revealed.
MOD data uncovered by Labour shows that 110 of personnel in the the greater Bristol area live in Grade 4 Single Living Accommodation, the lowest rating given by the Ministry of Defence.
Across the country, almost 39,000 members of the armed forces live in Grade 4 accommodation. A further 4,360 personnel live in accommodation so poor that no rental charge is levied. Just 21% live in the top ‘Grade 1’ accommodation, the lowest proportion since 2018.
The Ministry of Defence awards grades to its Single Living Accommodation based on ‘deficiency points’ allocated across 14 categories. Points are apportioned for the condition of bedroom decoration, fixtures and fittings, adequacy of heating systems and the proximity of toilet and washing facilities, among other factors.
There is currently no minimum quality standard set for Single Living Accommodation and no minimum acceptable conditions that service personnel should expect. A 2021 National Audit Office report on Single Living Accommodation exposed ‘decades of underinvestment’ and ‘problems with heating and hot water.’
Labour has commissioned an independent review of defence accommodation, chaired by crossbench peer and former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Bob Kerslake. The commission will bring together experts from fields including health, housing and the armed forces.
Labour’s Homes Fit for Heroes campaign is compiling evidence on the state of military accommodation which will be submitted as evidence to review. Personnel and their families can submit their views at https://labour.org.uk/homesfitforheroes/.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:
“Bristol has a long and proud military history. Those who join our Armed Forces must be given the support they need, when they need it. Not only should this help be forthcoming it should be delivered to the highest possible standards. Under the Tories this is not what’s happening.
“When we have service personnel living in accommodation that is deemed so poor that rent is not charged we can see that the covenant being provided isn’t worth the paper it is written on. This is being caused by decades of underinvestment resulting in some members of our Armed Forces not even having hot water or heating.
“The next Labour Government will fix the Tories mess. We have commissioned an independent review of defence accommodation and will continue our campaign “Homes Fit for Heroes”. We must give those willing to give the ultimate service to their country the accommodation they deserve. This cannot wait and Labour will act.”