17 July 2019

More than 11,500 armed forces homes are empty while ­thousands of hard-up veterans live on the streets.

Shocking new figures show nearly one in four of the Ministry of Defence’s entire housing stock is not being used.

And this includes 2,622 homes that have not been lived in for more ­than three years.

Of the 11,500 empty properties, 8,340 are available for occupancy.

Last night Labour MP Gareth Thomas blasted the situation as ­a ­scandal and called for the empty homes to be given to our homeless heroes. 

He said: “I’m gobsmacked by these figures. It really is shocking that all these homes are sitting empty and not being used when they could be used to house homeless former members of the armed services.”

Defence bosses admit that up to four per cent of Britain’s estimated 320,000 homeless are ex-forces.

That means up to 13,000 veterans – many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – don’t have a home.

Mr Thomas, MP for London’s Harrow West, said: “All the empty homes could plug that gap immediately. Given that these men and women have served their country – some of them going in harm’s way for us all – the very least we can do is provide them with a home at their time of greatest need.” The MP wants the MoD to copy America where empty homes are given to military charities for them to set up housing co-operatives.

He said: “These housing cooperatives can provide accommodation for veterans but also back that up with support such as counselling and ­employment advice to help them get their lives back on track.”

Some of the properties left empty are riddled with damp and mould – as we revealed earlier this year.

Billy MacLeod, of the charity Veterans in Action, said properties were abandoned for years at Army Headquarters in Andover, Hants. He said: “They used to be officers’ ­quarters, so they were good quality, ­decent family homes. Many of them three bedrooms. It’s disgusting that there are veterans ­living on the streets when houses like this could be used for them.”

The MoD sold most of its 50,000 homes to a private firm called Annington in 1996.

It means the MoD is paying for homes that aren’t even lived in.

The deal with Annington has been blasted by a top-level MPs’ committee as disastrous.

The MoD told the Sunday People a percentage of its housing would always be empty to allow for maintenance.

Personnel regularly move around so a number of homes must be kept in reserve to accommodate them. But they admitted the vacancy rate was too high.

Source: Mirror