14,000 MoD homes are left empty

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The Independent Online

Nearly one in four armed forces married quarters homes is standing empty, at a cost of nearly £40m a year to the taxpayer, according to the Whitehall spending watchdog.

Yet the Ministry of Defence (MoD) spent £11m last year renting private properties because it had no family accommodation available when it was needed at bases, the National Audit Office disclosed.

It said 14,000 married quarters homes were currently vacant. Of those, 3,800 had been empty for more than six months and 346 had been empty for more than three years.

The vacancy rate is at 10 per cent above the MoD's target level of 13 per cent.

The head of the NAO, Sir John Bourn, said if the MoD, which was planning to sell 6,500 surplus properties, could meet its vacancy target, it would free £17m a year to improve the remaining housing stock.