‘Poorest quality’ military accommodation for single personnel at Leuchars

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A large number of personnel at Leuchars military base are living in the worst quality accommodation, it has been revealed.

Across the UK, more than 25,000 service personnel live in grade four single living accommodation – the lowest rating given by the Ministry of Defence

The data obtained by Labour shows out of 3,450 personnel in Scotland, 1,360 are living in the poorest quality military housing. At the military base at Leuchars Station, a total of 350 out of the 510 personnel are living in the worst quality accommodation, making up 70 per cent.

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Shadow armed forces minister Luke Pollard claimed the figures were “appalling”.

RAF LeucharsRAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars

He said: “The figures that we have managed to get out of the government show that four in ten personnel in Scotland are living in the lowest grade serving accommodation.

“Out of 3,450 personnel in Scotland, who live in single living accommodation, that’s the accommodation that usually appears on bases, there are 1,360 people living in the poorest quality accommodation. That is grade four and that is an appalling number of people.

“We know from the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude survey that the army, the navy, the air force and Royal Marines are all seeing falls in morale, and one of the reasons the survey shows is because of poor accommodation.”

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) awards grades to its single living accommodation based on its quality across 14 categories, including the condition of bedroom decoration, fixtures and fittings, adequacy of heating systems and the proximity of toilet and washing facilities.

There is 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”.

Mr Pollard warned Britain was facing its “biggest threats in decades”, but was losing staff when it needed its military to “be stronger”.

He said: “This is no way to be treating our armed forces. It’s come from under investment for a decade. It’s the privatisation that followed a lowest cost model, it’s just been a lack of priority for ministers.

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“If any minister over the last 13 years had said fixing this is a priority and we will fix it, I genuinely think we would have fixed it by now. We are not talking about millions of homes.

“If we don’t invest in it, we lose people. Our armed forces are shrinking, our army is at its lowest levels since the Napoleonic area, and we are losing people because satisfaction with being in the armed forces is plummeting.”

Mr Pollard gave the example of one soldier in the forces for 20 years, whom he claimed was “tipped over the edge” by such poor accommodation they quit.

Vowing to fix the problem, the Labour minister claimed they would create an independent armed forces commissioner, modelled on the system in Germany, that would allow people who serve or their families to report issues. This would be done by someone independent of the hierarchy within the military, who could then report directly to Parliament.

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Mr Pollard said: “This problem has to be fixed, or we will lose too many of our military personnel.”

A MoD spokesperson said: "The defence secretary has made the provision of higher quality accommodation for service personnel a personal priority, reflecting the selfless dedication our armed forces provide for the nation. That's why we are introducing minimum standards to ensure all service personnel have access to good-quality accommodation, and additionally ensuring issues are rightly addressed much more quickly.

"Over the next decade we are committed to spending more than £4 billion to make improvement to existing accommodation and build new living quarters for our service personnel."

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