New figures released this week have shown that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stockpiled more than 10,000 empty properties at a time of a national housing shortage.
A spokesman for the MoD said: “A priority must be to set out for reducing the number of empty properties we hold to a more acceptable level.” Really!
The MoD has more than 10,000 empty properties, roughly the same as 22 years ago, despite selling off 55,000 homes in a doomed deal in the mid-nineties where the government lost up to £4.2b as the housing market boomed.
In 1996, the MoD sold 55,000 homes for married members of the armed forces to Annington Property Limited, which was set up by private equity financier, for £1.66bn.
As part of the sale and leaseback deal, the MoD then rented the homes from Annington on 200-year underleases. The deal, which was approved by the then Conservative government, was intended to release funds to improve the quality of housing for servicemen and women while reducing the government’s exposure to the property market.
Regarding criticisms over empty houses, the MoD spokesperson added: “A percentage of our housing stock needs to be empty between occupancies to allow for essential maintenance to take place before new tenants move in.
Military personnel also move around the country regularly and a certain number of houses need to be kept in reserve to accommodate them.”
Ten thousand empty properties for maintenance and in reserve sound like excuses, not valid reasons.