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One In Ten Military Homes Has Been Plagued With Pest Infestations

Military housing (Alamy)

3 min read

Exclusive: One in ten military homes have suffered from pest infestations since 2022, as the armed forces continue to face a severe staffing crisis after an exodus in personnel.

Responses from ministerial questions submitted by Labour have found 5,123 service family homes – more than 10 per cent of properties – had been treated for pest infestations over the last two years. The figures represent all reports of pests in service family accommodation which include seasonal issues such as ants and bees.

Luke Pollard, Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces minister, said Government ministers were failing the forces and their families with the “dire state of service accommodation”.

Overall satisfaction with service life has fallen from 60 per cent to 40 per cent since 2010 according to research by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD found the level of satisfaction for standard family accommodation fell from 52 per cent in 2022 to 46 per cent in 2023.

Meanwhile the quality of maintenance repair work to properties dropped from 37 per cent in 2015 to 19 per cent in 2023.

RUSI, a defence think tank, found that the quality of UK service accommodation had “long been recognised” as a factor which made it more difficult to retain staff.

A landmark report from King's College London in May into Armed Forces housing found poor-quality military accommodation had become “a tax on the goodwill of Service personnel and their families”. The document found levels of satisfaction had fallen to record lows and was cited as a crucial reason for the fall in overall satisfaction with service life.

Accommodation failings span across both Labour and Conservative governments, and were believed to have been driven by “disinvestment, poor management and broken housing services”.

The strength of the UK military fell by more than 7,000 to 7,430 while people who joined the armed forces decreased by 2,260, the equivalent of 17 per cent, over the last year, according to UK Government figures. People who left the armed services increased by 12 per cent to 1,880 since 2023.

Pollard said the Conservative Government had continued to fail British forces and its families with the "dire state of service accommodation".

"One in ten service family homes being treated for pest infestations is the latest example in a catalogue of failures," he said. 

“The last 14 Conservative years have corroded the nation’s contract with those who serve. Personnel are living in damp and mouldy housing and morale has fallen by a third since 2010 to almost 40 per cent.

“In Government, Labour will renew the country's commitment to those who serve, set new standards for service housing and legislate for an Armed Forces Commissioner to act as a strong independent champion for our Forces and their families to improve service life.”

The defence sub-committee in July 2023 launched an inquiry into Service Accommodation, and will probe the Ministry of Defence (MoD) into finding out its plans to improve and modernise single living spaces and service family accommodation.

A row broke out after the MoD blocked serving personnel from contributing to the inquiry. They had previously said any unauthorised disclosure could cause "damage" to the department and harm trust between the armed forces, Government and civil service.

Ultimately the department granted serving personnel permission to contribute to give evidence about living in poor quality accommodation.  

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “While pest issues can affect homes anywhere, we take the state of the military accommodation very seriously and are investing in upgrading housing stock.

“This includes investing an additional £400 million, on top of £4 billion to upgrade accommodation, and build new living quarters for our service personnel over the next decade."

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